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Long Island

Politicians seek more state, federal funds for Long Island roads

Funding to rebuild 15 miles of the busy Route 347 corridor through Smithtown and Brookhaven has run out, officials say.

Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors Association, was joined by Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at a Nesconset news conference Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, to call on the state and local governments to better fund local infrastructure projects, including the completion of the Route 347 reconstruction. (Credit: Newsday / Alfonso A. Castillo)

Builders, public officials and other Long Island community leaders Thursday urged the state and federal government to come through with more money for local roads projects, including one major effort in Suffolk that had the plug pulled on it when it was less than a third finished.

Standing near the point in Nesconset where the state’s reconstruction of Route 347 stopped in December, Marc Herbst, executive director of Long Island Contractors’ Association, pointed to the project as just one example of Long Island’s infrastructure needs.

“The reality is we need the money and we need it desperately,” Herbst said. “Our public officials support this. The residents support this. The businesses support this. Everybody wants this. We have to make sure the funding is available.”

The project to reconstruct 15 miles of the busy corridor through Smithtown and Brookhaven began in 2010. However, with less than 5 miles completed, funding for the work has run out, Herbst said. And, he said, the state Department of Transportation may not fund the next phase of the project until it begins its next five-year capital plan in 2025.

DOT spokesman Joseph Morrissey said the state has “has fulfilled the Route 347 project commitments” laid out in its current five-year capital plan, which expires in 2020.

“Additional funding for this project would need to be negotiated as part of the legislative budget process. Additional phases are also being considered as part of the development of the next capital plan,” Morrissey said.

Further dimming their hopes to have that and other important Long Island road and bridge projects addressed anytime soon, speakers said, is President Donald Trump’s new infrastructure plan, which they said prioritizes work in more rural areas.

“When you talk about shovel-ready projects, this project is about as shovel-ready as you can get,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “The only thing that is lacking here is the will . . . to get it done.”

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