Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus continued to press the Democrat majority in the County Legislature for action on stalled legislative business including the 2008 Dutchess County Highway and Bridge Improvement Program, which includes bridge and culvert projects as well as the pavement management program.
“Continued stonewalling of these critical highway projects is costing taxpayers more and more every day,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “Even worse, the safety of our roads and bridges are being put in jeopardy by the Legislature’s refusal to move forward with these critical infrastructure improvements.”
Steinhaus said, “We are watching asphalt prices rise at an unprecedented rate due to soaring petroleum costs while the Legislature chooses to sit back and wait. Prices for asphalt binder have climbed nearly 30% since April alone with no relief in sight. The Legislature cannot afford to delay any longer if we want to maintain our roads and bridges.”
Asphalt is made of an aggregate, stones or gravel, and a binder, a tarlike substance that's oil-based. With crude oil prices going up, the cost of asphalt binder has increased more than 75% percent since last year, according to the New York State Department of Transportation’s Average Posted Prices for Asphalt.
County Executive Steinhaus originally forwarded the $2.9 million Dutchess County 2008 Highway and Bridge Improvement Program bond resolution to the Legislature four months ago to fund ongoing improvements to the 394 - mile County Highway System, which also includes 312 bridges. Steinhaus said, “Approval of our annual road repair projects has always been routine. Final approval was expected in June, however the road projects were stalled by the Democratic majority. In the past 60 days, while the Democrat Majority thumbs its nose at motorists, we have seen our cost for asphalt concrete jump 20% from May to July.”
County Executive Steinhaus said, “We cannot control inflation, but we do have a responsibility to the taxpayers to keep our roads and bridges safe and well-maintained. Democrats saying no to important road repairs only serves to compound taxpayer cost and creates a backlog of work to be done with no capacity to do the work all at once.”
Examples of bridge and culvert projects to be funded by the bond include the replacement of Culvert R6 on Violet Hill Road (CR101) in the Town of Rhinebeck. This project will also include improvements to the road’s existing alignment. The bond also includes additional funding for federal aid bridge projects to pay for increasing construction and professional service costs that may not be covered by federal aid reimbursement:
• Crum Elbow Road Bridge over Fallkill Creek in the Town of Hyde Park.
• Dog Tail Corners Road Bridge over Tenmile River in the Town of Dover.
• Amenia Union Road Bridge over Mill Brook in the Town of Amenia.
• Dover Furnace Road Bridge over Metro-North Railroad in the Town of Dover.
“We have all seen the tragic consequences of failure to properly maintain bridges and roadways. The residents who travel these roadways and cross these bridges each day have entrusted us to ensure their families safety. Public safety has always been a top priority for this administration and it is my hope the Legislature will also make a priority as well by approving this critical funding,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.
The total cost of the 2008 Highway and Bridge Improvement Program is $5,529,000. The County anticipates receiving annual Consolidated Highway Improvement Program Funds (CHIPS) from New York State, which will reduce the net cost to county government to $2,935,500.