News Release

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000
countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

October 26, 1999

Steinhaus Announces Reorganization of Highway Engineering
Department During Dover Bridge Reopening


Dover, NY -- County Executive William R. Steinhaus is pleased to announce the reopening of the Reagan's Mill Bridge over the Ten Mile River, in the Town of Dover. The rehabilitated, 107 foot span provides a vital transportation link to the nearby Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. factory and safer access for school buses to the adjacent residential area. A walkway was also added to the bridge to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety.

"Retaining existing jobs and encouraging local companies to expand is a key element of Dutchess County's economic development strategy," said County Executive Steinhaus. "When we learned that weight restrictions on the existing bridge might force Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. to move its facility and thus 170 existing jobs out of the county, I made a commitment to get the bridge rehabilitated. Today, we witness the realization of that commitment with the reopening of this bridge."

"This administration worked with a team of other committed public officials to rehabilitate this bridge,"  Steinhaus noted. "Governor Pataki, Senator Leibell and the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation have been very helpful in securing the state funding, which paid for a majority of this project's $750,000 cost." The county committed $200,000 to the work and Governor Pataki, through the New York State Industrial Access program IAP provided $350,000, An additional $200,000 of New York State Multi Modal funding was secured by Senator Leibell.

Since the rehabilitation of Reagan's Mill Bridge began, Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. has started a $1 million capital improvement and expansion plan of its own, which includes the expansion of their main facility, the addition of a maintenance building and purchase of new equipment. With this expansion, thirty new jobs will be added by the end of 2000 making Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. one of the major employers in eastern Dutchess County.

"On behalf of all the employees of Westchester Modular Homes, Inc. and their suppliers, I personally would like to thank Governor Pataki, County Executive Bill Steinhaus, Senator Leibell and the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation for their cooperation and efforts in bringing this project to completion," said Westchester Modular Homes President, Charles W. Hatcher. "It represents a major step forward for everyone at Westchester Modular Homes, Inc."

"The Reagan's Mill Bridge is a clear example of the importance a well-designed and well maintained system of highways, bridges and traffic control devices is to our residents and businesses," Steinhaus commented. "Whether it is used for moving goods or transporting our children to school safely, our highway system represents a basic need of our community and a core responsibility of county government."

The reopening of the Reagan's Mill Bridge demonstrates what can be achieved through collaborations of government, industry and the not for profit sectors. "I wish to thank Governor Pataki, Senator Leibell, the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation and Charles Hatcher of Westchester Modular Homes for making the reconstruction of this bridge a reality," Steinhaus said. This project not only made it possible for a major employer to remain in Dutchess County, but encouraged that company to make a substantial investment in expanding its presence. The project also enhanced the safety of the bridge in accommodating school buses, bicyclists and pedestrians. Finally, the project represents the beginning of a major road and bridge capital construction program. "Today's ceremony is particularly significant as it opens the bridge to the next century for Westchester Modular Homes and the Dutchess County road and bridge system." Steinhaus concluded.

On a related subject, the County Executive also announced his year 2000 budgetary plans to enhance our highway system infrastructure. Because of the system's importance, Dutchess County has embarked upon an aggressive campaign to obtain federal funding for local highway projects. "I am pleased to acknowledge the technical support and persistence of Public Works Commissioner Paul Cassillo and his staff in obtaining in excess of $56 million of federal ISTEA and TEA-21 funding for locally administered federal aid projects including: $26 million for the replacement of 29 bridges, $26.4 million for 18 major road reconstruction projects, $3.1 million for the construction of two bike trails, and $0.5 million for an innovative sign management program."

"The challenge before us," Steinhaus said "is to move the projects from the grant application to reality." Recent changes in state policy shifted design and project management responsibility from NYSDOT to counties and other municipalities. To meet that challenge, Steinhaus will propose as part of his 2000 budget to strengthen the county's engineering department by supplementing its supervising design engineering staff.'   These professionals will shoulder the burden of moving the projects forward, overseeing both in-house and private sector engineering design and construction management efforts. "Critical to the prompt completion of the projects and of utmost concern to our taxpayers," said Steinhaus "is the ability to charge engineering design and construction management costs to the federally financed projects and not to our local property tax bills."

In addition to hastening completion of the capital projects, Steinhaus announced the 2000 Executive Budget will include funding to increase its roadway preventative maintenance program to double that of 1999 levels. "Maintenance of our highway system is critical and can only be deferred temporarily," Steinhaus stated. "Next year we are doubling the miles we will resurface with our oil and stone program."

It is recognized in the industry that for every dollar spent on preventative maintenance five dollars are saved in future capital dollars. "Due to efficient planning like this, in our year 2000 Executive Budget we are able to include our fifth property tax cut in eight years," Steinhaus added.


'One new Assistant Civil Engineer II position, one upgrade of an existing position to A.C.E.II, filling a vacant Assistant Director of Engineering position.


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