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Nassau, Suffolk ask Cuomo for $1B of state surplus for infrastructure

Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on

Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on Sept. 21, 2013. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau and Suffolk counties are asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to invest $1 billion in state surplus funds for 10 infrastructure projects, including an ocean outfall pipe in East Rockaway, a parking garage at the Nassau Coliseum and widening the Sagtikos Parkway.

The funding request, drafted by Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, looks to tap the state's $5 billion surplus, which came from settlements with banks and insurance companies.

Long Island will have plenty of competition for the cash, including costly projects to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge and improve city subways.

Cuomo has said he wants to use some surplus funds for infrastructure, to expand broadband access, to provide tax relief to school districts and for economic development upstate. A decision is expected next year. "These issues will be addressed during the budget process," said Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever.

Law, who consulted with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on the funding request, said Long Island should "get its fair share. We have so many infrastructure needs here."

Nassau is asking for $600 million from the state, half of which would be used to build an ocean outfall pipe to allow the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant to release treated sewage into the Atlantic Ocean rather than Long Island's western bays. The project costs $600 million but Mangano said he is working with federal agencies to provide the rest of the funding.

The county wants $100 million to build a parking garage at the Coliseum, which will begin a $229 million renovation project next year. Tiered parking would free up dozens of acres of asphalt for additional business development.

An additional $100 million would be used for structured parking, a Long Island Rail Road station and roadway improvements at the former Cerro Wire site in Syosset.

Nassau also wants $50 million for roadway, transit and pedestrian improvements at Belmont Park and $50 million to upgrade the Nassau Expressway with new pavement, curbs, grading and drainage.

Mangano said the projects would "create jobs, strengthen our economy, and clean up our waterways."

Suffolk is asking for $400 million, including $150 million in sewer investments in downtown areas from Huntington to Brookhaven. The funding would complement $383 million in largely federal aid announced in October for four new Suffolk sewer projects.

Suffolk wants $100 million to widen the Sagtikos Parkway to handle added traffic from the Heartland Town Square project in Brentwood. An added $50 million would go for a parking garage at the new Ronkonkoma Hub retail and apartment complex.

Law also requested a combined $100 million for two new bus rapid transit routes. One would operate along Route 110, serving the Amityville and Republic railroad stations, Farmingdale State College and the Walt Whitman Shops. The other would serve 15 miles of Nicolls Road and Stony Brook University, Suffolk Community College, the Ronkonkoma Hub and MacArthur Airport.

"All of these projects are critically important for the economic development of the county and to bring young people back to our downtowns," Bellone said.

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