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Letter to the Editor: Assemblyman George Latimer

Letter to the Editor

Main Street Connect

ON THE ROAD TO REPAIR: The I-287 Project

Nearly 15 years later and with a price tag of $743 million, a rate of $86 million per mile, Westchester residents will soon see a completed Interstate 287. The road is a lifeline for our residents.

The project has long been burdened by inadequate planning, unqualified design teams, lack of oversight, and a “rigid regional” funding system that made financing even more difficult when compounded with the current economic climate. This project was approved during a different economy and there was wiggle room in the State budget. Now, we unfortunately don’t have the same luxuries and that has cost the taxpayers greatly while 287 has been under construction.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently implemented a new series of drastic reforms that will bring the cost of the I-287 project under control and move up the often changed end date. The Governor’s changes will significantly alter the way the Department of Transportation does business, making the Department more efficient on projects throughout New York. Once again, he has shown strong leadership in advancing necessary change in the way state government functions.

The DOT used to operate with the goal of finishing only half of the State’s projects on time as well as allowing cost overruns to balloon 11%. Moving forward, 90% of projects will be finished on schedule and overruns limited to 5%. In order to make logistical operations smoother, the Governor has directed the DOT to create a 2-week window to approve project alterations; previously a process that took up to a year and has been a source of significant delay on the I-287 construction.

These reforms came as a result of the investigation by Peter Lehrer at the request of the Governor’s Office and will directly address the significant issues that have slowed down the I-287 project and many others across the State. Peter Lehrer is a renowned construction industry expert and also a Mamaroneck resident who most likely has been frustrated by the I-287 project himself. In the spring, I drafted a letter signed by all seven Assembly members from Westchester - Republicans and Democrats - urging the Governor's efforts for review and reform of this process. We're happy to see the product of that request provide a thoughtful reform of the way the State handles these massive road projects.

Before these reforms, no one entity had the full responsibility and the ball would fall in the middle of the outfield. Now we’re catching the ball with both hands.

George Latimer

New York State Assemblyman

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