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North Hempstead to go from index cards to digitized maps, infrastructure lists

Town of North Hempstead sign maker Victor DaSilva,

Town of North Hempstead sign maker Victor DaSilva, at Onderdonck and Nassau avenues on May 16, with a stop sign that will be replaced by a new one. Credit: Danielle Silverman

North Hempstead and Port Washington North officials are counting on a new digitized mapping database that rates roadways and tracks government infrastructure to make road work cheaper, faster and more efficient.

The database costs $300,000, but officials said they estimated the system to save the town $1.7 million dollars over five years, primarily in reduced costs associated with labor and time. The project uses geographic information system technology to map roadways and "assets" such as sidewalks, street signs, lights and hydrants. It is expected to be operating by fall. 

“It's taken the town's asset inventory system from the Stone Age into the Tech Age that we're all living in,” Supervisor Judi Bosworth said last week.

The town’s current inventory system of road signs, hydrants and other assets mostly relies on institutional knowledge and handwritten index cards.

“There is tremendous cost savings in terms of having it readily available without someone having to go through that box [of index cards] or rely on someone's memory,” Bosworth said. 

When a resident reports a missing street sign, a highway department worker currently has to first go to the scene to inspect the situation. Once the new database is in place, that worker can just log into the database through a digital device to see what sign is needed and go to the location to install it, fixing the problem in one trip.

Other than tracking government assets, the system also rates pavement conditions, covering 300 miles of town roads and 6 miles of village roads. Municipal officials said that gives them a map of their pavement infrastructure and helps them prioritize their repaving schedule.

“We are in the midst of doing major roadwork, and this will help us budget and schedule,” Port Washington North Mayor Bob Weitzner said, adding that the data establishes criteria for prioritizing repaving projects. 

Weitzner said the database not only helps his village plan for road projects but also pinpoints any deficiencies the village has before any resident reports it.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got the best street signs, traffic signs that are out there so that there’s no such thing as a stop sign that doesn’t reflect at night, or a yield sign, or a children crossing sign that may be faded,” the mayor said.

Craig Schorling, vice president of Transmap, a Columbus, Ohio-based company with the contract for the mapping and digitalizing, said that drivers finished surveying the roads in early May. He expects the database to be completed by September and said the results will be presented to the town and village in fall.

The town and village received a one-time $270,000 grant from the New York State Department of State in 2015 and provided a local match of $30,000 to pay for the Transmap contract and software and hardware needed for the database. town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said the town will maintain and update the database after Transmap trains town staff.

North Hempstead moves to digital roadway database

  • The mapping project costs $300,000.
  • Officials said the project will save the town $1.7 million in labor costs over five years.
  • The project is paid for by a $270,000 grant from the New York Department of State in 2015 and a local match of $30,000.
  • The project surveyed 300 miles of town roads and 6 miles of village roads.

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