infrastructure

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Look for a feeding frenzy in Albany next spring, when lawmakers have to figure out to do with about $5 billion in unexpected cash.  A group called Rebuild New York Now is creating a coalition of government leaders, organized labor and private business to urge Albany to spend the windfall on fixing the state’s declining infrastructure.

Thomas Schmidt / Flickr

The Cuomo administration has announced a $40 million competition designed to encourage local energy solutions for extreme weather conditions. The problem at hand is an aging electrical infrastructure in New York state and the nation. The solution may be a "microgrid."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says $5 billion in extra money that New York is reaping from bank settlements should not be viewed as a surplus, and should not be spent as though there will be more money coming in the future.

“I wouldn’t call it a surplus,” DiNapoli said. “It’s really more of a windfall.”

And so the comptroller says it should not be used for recurring expenses, like tax cuts or increased school aid, as some legislators have suggested.

Office of the Attorney General (file photo)

New York state finds itself with a five billion dollar surplus -- something that hasn't happened in a while. It's thanks in large part to bank settlements orchestrated by the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In a recent interview, Schneiderman said the money should be put in a special infrastructure fund. The attorney general says regions with economic problems hardest hit by the housing crash should be targeted to receive some of the funds.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

What would the city of Syracuse do with $1 billion? Syracuse City Hall has put together a series of projects that it hopes could be the basis for a Syracuse Billion agenda, based loosely on the state funded Buffalo Billion.

Mayor Stephanie Miner says topping the wish list is replacing a 550 mile, 100-year-old water system that constantly breaks down. The project would cost $750 million.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State lawmakers say they want to act quickly to spend the state’s growing $5 billion surplus on an infrastructure fund to fix up roads and bridges, among other things. At a think tank sponsored conference on the state’s infrastructure, participants said there are deep needs and they warn lawmakers not to spend the money frivolously.  

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York state will begin 2015 with the largest one-time windfall budget surplus since the end of World War II, due to settlements with major banks after the financial crisis. Fiscal watchdog groups are warning lawmakers not to go crazy with ideas for how to spend it.

The settlements from Bank of America, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other financial institutions have netted the state $5.1 billion in settlements over alleged misconduct during the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The city of Syracuse is ready to jump into a competition for more state funds meant to spark the upstate economy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to announce a competition based on the model of the Buffalo Billion.

Cuomo, during an political stop in Syracuse last month, said he’ll start talking up the program in his State of the State speech in January.

“We’re going to ask for a billion and a half dollars to bring the Buffalo Billion type program to other cities across upstate New York," Cuomo said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It’s what every commuter hates when trying to get to work in the morning: red lights. They slow drive times down and waste gas, but the city of Syracuse is working to upgrade its traffic light system, so drivers see more green.

"By coordinating the traffic lights, what happens is, we can tell the traffic light not only how long to be green in a certain direction, but when to go green," explains Harry Carlson of the city's public works department.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) has put together a wide-ranging program that would invest in central New York’s infrastructure, ranging from fixing crumbling roads and bridges to bringing high speed rail to the area. He says there has to be a mindset change in Washington for this to happen.

Sen. Charles Schumer wants to add about $50 million to funding that comes to New York for upkeep and repair of rural bridges.

The federal government provides the state with $71 million a year right now to maintain the thousands of bridges that don’t fall under federal purview. That number is tied to a 2009 transportation bill.

There are efforts in Congress to continue to cap that amount through 2020. The Democrat says continuing to cap the fund will lead to further deterioration of rural bridges. 

Gino Geruntino / WRVO File

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) says Oswego County is in a prime position to grow economically, but needs some help improving the infrastructure to do that.

The Democrat, whose district includes Syracuse and part of Oswego County, recently held a roundtable on infrastructure at the Port of Oswego.

Maffei and fellow Rep Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) have helped secure funding for rail improvements at the port. This time the topics of discussion were not only expanding roads and rail lines, but replacing water and sewer lines and better rural broadband access.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Public works crews have already patched 2,000 potholes on Syracuse streets in April, but there are so many more, they now have their own email address.

City officials Tuesday unveiled a new pothole repair truck and called on residents to help report potholes around town. A quarter of those repaired so far came from city complaints, officials said.

Finding more shouldn't be a problem.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is touring the state, talking with cities about aging infrastructures, hoping the state can come up with some help for communities plagued by collapsing streets and broken water mains.

It’s been a really horrible year when it comes to water main breaks in the City of Syracuse, said water department superintendent Paul Trovato.

"Between the cold and being old that’s what the problem is,” he said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Water department crews have spent a lot more time this winter digging into frozen ground, shoveling asphalt and sifting through mud to find holes in Syracuse’s plumbing as an unusually high number of water main breaks is putting a strain on city resources.

Since the beginning of the year, the city’s century-old water system has sprung more than a hundred leaks. That’s more than two a day that city works crews have had to patch and twice the number the city normally deals with.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Central New York's underground infrastructure - namely, water mains - was a big focus of a discussion about the region's infrastructure hosted by Rep. Dan Maffei Tuesday.

Maffei, a Democrat from Syracuse, gathered elected officials, engineers and administrators at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse to discuss infrastructure. One main message was that upgrades and maintenance of the region's plumbing and water pipes has been an often ignored or delayed investment.

dougtone / via Flickr

Changes are coming to Syracuse’s West Street artery to make the roadway more pedestrian friendly and less of a barrier for the Near Westside neighborhood.

West Street was built in the middle of the last century, as Interstate 81 was paving through the city, as a way to move cars more easily. It’s six lanes wide and not pedestrian friendly, but many west side residents have to cross the street to get downtown or to the grocery store.

The Near Westside Initiative, a community advocacy group has been working with the state transportation department on a redesign.

Port of Oswego receives new equipment

Jan 23, 2014
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer was in Oswego Wednesday to announce that the city's port has received some much needed equipment.

Schumer helped port officials secure a new container reach stacker, along with a dump truck and two generators from the federal government's surplus equipment program. He says the reach stacker will help the port be more efficient and save money.

The Oswego City Common Council is pushing a more aggressive agenda to help prevent a repeat of last year's 43 percent property tax increase.

Common Council president Ron Kaplewicz says the prospect of another year with massive tax increases scares everyone at City Hall, and is prompting the council to get more creative with the decisions it makes and the revenue sources it taps.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted Vice President Joe Biden to talk about new ways of rebuilding infrastructure after damaging storms. The two are potential presidential contenders in 2016, if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run. But they had nothing but praise for one another.  

New York state received $6 billion in federal aid after Superstorm Sandy, and Cuomo Biden to the State Capitol, to show him how he’s spending the money.

A budget watchdog group says New York’s new 10 year plan of how it will spend more than $174 billion in road, bridge and numerous other projects lacks transparency and needs more details on how it will all be paid for.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, for the first time, has compiled a list of all the state improvement projects anticipated for the next 10 years, for a total estimated cost of $174.4 billion.

Maffei discusses range of topics at town hall

Sep 17, 2013
Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

About sixty people came to Onondaga Community College Monday night for Rep. Dan Maffei's town hall meeting. Constituents asked about the Democrat from Syracuse Democrat everything from the economy to health care.  

Federal spending on infrastructure was one of the economic topics discussed. While Maffei says there is no partisan divide in central New York when it comes to investing in infrastructure, but he said he doesn't expect any bill on it to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the near future.  

Zack Seward / WXXI

Transportation planners have narrowed the future of Interstate 81’s path through downtown Syracuse down to two likely options: rebuild, or re-route.

Central New York has a lot to be proud of when it comes to going green. That was the message at the Greening USA annual meeting in Syracuse yesterday. But there are still challenges when it comes to making the investment in green energy.

Dougtone / Creative Commons License

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council, or REDC, held its most recent meeting at Fort Drum last week. The idea was to give members from the region's seven counties greater insight into how the Army post interacts with the local economy. The council also took steps to implement a new program for water and sewer project infrastructure.  

WBFO file photo

A recent study outlines a scenario that would see New York state’s energy infrastructure based on close to 100 percent renewable sources by the year 2030.

Some rights reserved by Sean MacEntee / Creative Commons

The state's Connect NY Broadband Grant program awarded $25 million to 18 projects on Tuesday.

Bethany Palmer/WRVO

The Port of Oswego could be in line for some business-boosting help from the federal government. Sen. Charles Schumer is hoping to use his clout to get some help to keep the port growing.

Nucor Steel employs about 300 people in Auburn, New York. Company officials asked for Rep. Dan Maffei's support of infrastructure projects that use American steel, when he paid a visit recently.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he intends to propose in his State of the State message several recommendations from a disaster preparedness commission, to help the state better cope with major storms in the future.

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