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Marc Herbst Addresses the Need to Fix Long Island’s Aging Infrastructure at LIMBA

Marc Herbst (third from left), Executive Director, Long Island Contractors Association, Inc., was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting, which was held at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma on January 17. Also pictured (left to right): Patrick Fife, Partner, Twomey Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP; Ken Nevor, Member and Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA; Robert W. Doyle, Jr., Partner, Lewis Johs Avallone Avilles, LLP; Bill Miller, Treasurer, LIMBA; and Tim Platz, Sales Director, CardWorks Acquiring, LLC, the event’s sponsor. Twomey Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP is an annual sponsor.

On January 17, Marc Herbst, Executive Director, Long Island Contractors Association, Inc., (LICA) spoke at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting, which took place at the Courtyard by Marriot in Ronkonkoma. He addressed the need for New York State to provide more funding for Long Island’s roadways, which have deteriorated due to age, lack of upkeep and lack of financial support.

In addition to certain duties such as labor relations, LICA is responsible for maintaining the industry standards and safety training in the construction industry, Mr. Herbst said. The economic impact of construction on Long Island has resulted in $5.4 billion a year into Long Island’s gross domestic product and the creation of 6,200 direct jobs and 16,700 indirect jobs. According to Mr. Herbst, the average wage of someone in the construction field who works in either heavy or civil engineering is $112,304 a year.

Some of the projects that have been completed included the construction of the third track on the Long Island Rail Road — which, at $6 billion, was the most expensive public works project on Long Island — as well as the elevation of Nassau Expressway, the reconstruction of the Walt Whitman Bridge and the work done on the Bergen Point outfall tunnel, which cost $187 million, the most Suffolk County ever spent on a project.

In the New York State Transportation Five-Year Capital Program for 2015-2020, the budget is for $55 billion, but only 4% of the state’s operating budget was allocated for improving state and local highways, according to Mr. Herbst. He said the last time that the Long Island Expressway was redone was 1979. Now, state highways with a 12-year life cycle have to go 22 years before requiring repairs; for local highways, the life cycle is being stretched from 30 to 40 years.

In fact, Mr. Herbst said, LICA conducted its own analysis and found that, after examining 379 miles of highways on Long Island, 82% were deemed either “fair” or “poor.” The worst roads, according to the LICA study, were the Northern State Parkway at the New York City/Nassau County border, the Southern State Parkway and Route 109.

“That’s because of the lack of state funding for transportation,” Mr. Herbst said. “Our roads are crumbling because the money’s not there.”

Mr. Herbst also pointed out that the proposed project to revamp 15 miles of Route 347 between Route 25A and Route 454 was stopped one-third of the way through because the money ran out. He also pointed out the lack of money to create additional lanes along the Oakdale merge on Sunrise Highway has “stymied business relations” and, because of the traffic congestion, “people don’t want to live there.”

In the past, Mr. Herbst said, the state Legislature came up with a bipartisan regional funding measure in which each region in the state received the same percentage year after year; for Long Island, it was 23%. However, when the power inside the Legislature shifted, the regional funding formula was replaced with a “Projects of Regional Significance” list, in which Long Island lost its funding.

With Governor Cuomo proposing a new budget for 2020-21, Mr. Herbst is hoping that the state will allocate more money for Long Island’s roads. If that cannot be done, he said, he suggested seeking alternative revenue sources to fund the road repairs, such as raising the gasoline tax, congestion pricing, and legalizing online sports betting and marijuana.

In addition to serving as Executive Director of LICA, Mr. Herbst serves as Vice President of the New York Roadway and Infrastructure Coalition and Past Chairman of the Council of State Executives for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

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