Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the New York Conference of...

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the New York Conference of Mayors in Albany. Cuomo wants mayors to pressue their senators and Assembly members to vote for his cheaper pension plan for future workers over the opposition of public employee unions. (Feb. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

ALBANY -- Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers are asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to keep Long Island's state Department of Transportation office separate from New York City's.

The governor wants to consolidate the state's 11 regional DOT offices into six to streamline government. Cuomo proposed the consolidations in January as part of cost-saving measures in his executive budget.

"I'm afraid that New York City will take away the resources from our region," said Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), who wrote a letter Tuesday also signed by 19 other Assembly members. Schimel said the expertise needed to deal with Long Island transportation issues was different from New York City's.

"There are different municipalities, zoning, jurisdictions and that requires a nuanced, very specific understanding of Long Island," she said.

She wrote that consolidation would "severely hinder public safety and Long Island's transportation infrastructure."

Cuomo said after a cabinet meeting Thursday that he had not yet seen the letter.

New York State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said a decision to combine the New York City and Long Island offices had not been made.

"We're still looking at everything," McDonald said. "We're looking at the organization to make sure we maximize our human resources."

McDonald said that safety and preserving the state's roads and bridges was her top priority.

Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), who chairs the Senate transportation committee, said he has heard that the plan is to merge the two offices, which he opposes.

"Each region has unique and specific needs," he said. "The city operation takes care of a city with 8 million people and the needs of transportation in the city are extremely different than they are in Long Island."


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