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Guv suspends Route 110 project, other NY construction

Workmen repair potholes on the LIE. (March 2,

Workmen repair potholes on the LIE. (March 2, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The failure of New York State lawmakers to approve a new state budget by its April 1 deadline is forcing a temporary spending plan to keep government running and a suspension in payments for school aid and many state-funded construction projects.

Gov. David A. Paterson said Tuesday he's deferring $2.1 billion in school aid payments - usually sent out on March 31 - until the budget is resolved. He also put the brakes on all construction projects not paid for by federal economic stimulus funds, including the $27.9 million Route 110 interchange project on the Long Island Expressway. Contractors will be informed that their projects won't be funded further until a new budget is passed or other emergency funds are secured, state officials said.

"Plummeting revenues and record deficits have once again forced me to take extraordinary cash-management actions," Paterson said.

Without a budget, the state Legislature has approved a "bare-bones" $4.6 billion temporary spending measure which will pay for Medicaid for the poor and state worker salaries but not much else.

The Legislature returns to Albany on April 7, after the Passover-Easter break, to resume the debate over how to plug an estimated $9.2 billion deficit. Since 1975, Albany has met its budget deadline only six times.

A Paterson budget spokesman, Matt Anderson, said school payments must be made by June 1 under current law.

In the meantime, Anderson acknowledged, school districts and local municipalities around the state may have to borrow money until expected state aid arrives. Among those Long Island schools that will be waiting for checks are Connetquot ($8.4 million), Brentwood ($12.3 million), Massapequa ($3.5 million) and Levittown ($8.9 million), records show.

According to state transportation officials, the Long Island Expressway-Route 110 interchange project involves raising the overpass and widening it from two to three lanes. Posillico Civil, a Farmingdale firm that is doing the work, had no comment about the funding suspension.

Other local road projects expected to be impacted by the delays include reconstruction of the Roslyn Viaduct in North Hempstead and improvements to Route 112, north of the LIE near Farmingville, said Marc Herbst, a spokesman for the Long Island Contractors Association, an industry group representing several big contractors. Those projects employ more than 100 workers "who might have to stop working" if state funding dries up, Herbst said. He said the contractors may sue the state because of added expenses caused by the budget delays.

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