Orleans identifies $40 million in infrastructure work in federal request

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2020 at 9:23 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County and Town of Albion highway workers on Aug. 19, 2019 work on a new culvert on Clarendon Road. The county is seeking federal funding to help pay for more culvert, bridge and road work.

Orleans County officials have identified about $40 million worth of infrastructure work in a list of projects that could move forward in future federal stimulus bills.

The New York State Association of Counties on Monday sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders calling for immediate action on infrastructure investment as part of any future economic stimulus packages.

The letter included a list of infrastructure projects from 40 counties totaling more than $7.35 billion.

The Orleans County, the list includes four main initiatives that total $40,362,555.

In Orleans County, the projects on the list include:

• Orleans/Niagara Regional Alliance Broadband Initiative: Total cost at $10,131,655.

That project would expand high-speed wireless internet to which would expand educational and economic opportunities for consumer sin remote locations. It would allow residents to take advantage of telemedicine opportunities, and allow students to do distance learning at colleges, universities and other platforms.

“We have experienced major issues during the coronavirus pandemic for educational and telemedicine’s access in rural communities,” according to a June 2 letter by County Legislator Ken DeRoller, listing the infrastructure needs in the county.

• Emergency Management Organization Operational Center/Training Facility on West Countyhouse Road in Albion at a cost of $350,000.

This project which correct deficiencies in the current buildings which have caused operational issues, according to a fact sheet from the county.

The project would provide a sufficient meeting room, training room and office space, and would be ADA complaint.

• Orleans County infrastructure improvement initiative with roads, bridges and culverts at a cost of $17,425,500.

John Papponetti, county DPW superintendent, said the county will have bridges and culverts is pushing to have some of the preliminary engineering done on the projects, with cost estimates, so they would be eligible for federal stimulus funding.

• Orleans County Shared Water Service Infrastructure Project at a cost of $12,455,400.

This project would add transmission lines and water storage tanks, increasing fire flows, storage and reducing the water rate. It would eliminate some dead ends, replace some aging infrastructure and add another major transmission line. It would also increase the capacity of water in the county for future economic and residential development needs.

NYSAC projects that counties across New York State (outside of New York City) currently have more $10.8 billion in infrastructure funding needs and that fully funding these projects could create or save up to 200,000 jobs, helping to revitalize local economies as they begin the process of recovering from the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

“Now is the time to innovate, to invest in our future, and to rebuild a stronger, smarter infrastructure for the good of all,” said NYSAC President John F. Marren. “It is in this spirit of renewal that we presented these project recommendations to our federal partners. These projects represent a significant opportunity to jumpstart our economy, add construction and trade jobs to our workforce, and strengthen our infrastructure for the next generation of Americans.”

The renewed call for federal funding comes as counties grapple with dramatic drops in revenues. Sales tax revenues for the month of May were down 32 percent statewide, in line with NYSAC’s most recent Coronavirus Economic Impact Report which projects that counties outside New York City will face revenue losses of up to $2 billion and the potential of another $1.5 billion in state budget cuts.

Despite these historic revenue losses, counties are required under state law to fully fund and administer all state and federal programs, which are in high demand during the pandemic and recession.

“Every community in New York has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 and the corresponding economic shutdown in response to the virus,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “The infrastructure projects that we are presenting to Congress and the President today are a once in a generation opportunity to provide an economic shot in the arm and reshape these communities better and stronger than ever before.”

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