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Brookhaven highway chief has emergency plan

Brookhaven's new highway superintendent unveiled a sweeping emergency preparedness plan Tuesday, to ensure a more efficient response after the department was heavily criticized for slow snow removal during February's blizzard.

In his first major news conference since being elected in March, Dan Losquadro announced the department has applied for a $1 million grant to fund a new radio system, which would allow all highway vehicles to communicate with headquarters.

If the grant doesn't come through, Losquadro said he would include the expenditure in the highway capital budget, expected to be $70 million -- the same as last year.

"I'm ready to move forward with my plan," Losquadro said at highway department headquarters in Coram.

Losquadro, who will be paid $102,000 as superintendent, took over a department that was widely criticized for its reaction to the Feb. 8-9 blizzard, which left residents stranded, streets unplowed for days and triggered the resignation of acting Superintendent Michael Murphy.

Losquadro won a closely watched election over Town Councilwoman Kathy Walsh. He said Tuesday that outdated equipment prevented the department from doing an adequate job.

In addition, he said the department has purchased nine new trucks for $1.4 million and plans to use three trucks that were bought last year.

Losquadro said the dozen vehicles will be a big lift as many department vehicles are "at the end of their life expectancy."

The trucks are really the mainstay of the department's snow and debris removal, Losquadro said, and it's "a significant increase to our force."

The department also updated its high-priority paving list, where several hundred roads were removed and added. In all, 800 roads remain, with repairs totaling $75 million.

The highway superintendent said the department will repair the worst roads first, many of which include areas near schools and hospitals. He also plans to complete several stalled projects.

High-efficiency lights at headquarters and highway yards will save the department money, Losquadro said. Exactly how much wasn't immediately known.

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