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New York roadways will see improvements come spring

DOT Waterford Fleet Facility electronic sign that reads "Ready for winter weather"
Samantha Simmons
DOT Waterford Fleet Facility electronic sign that reads "Ready for winter weather"

The New York State Department of Transportation is cheering Governor Kathy Hochul for funding the renewal of more than 65 state roadways that have been impacted by extreme weather.

The season’s first significant snowfall had already fallen on parts of New York as state leaders met at the DOT Waterford Fleet Facility on Monday to announce $100 million in state investments.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez says the funding will support the repaving of nearly 568 lane miles across 66 locations set to begin in the spring.

The funding breaks down like this:

The Capital Region will receive $8.7 million

The North Country, $8.8 million

The Mohawk Valley region, $6.4 million

The Mid-Hudson region, $17.4 million

Central New York, $2.6 million

The Southern Tier will see $19.5 million

Dominguez says keeping roads clear is a 24-7 job and while a heavy emphasis is placed on roadway management during winter storms, the work continues after the storm passes.

“The impacts of climate change have become so severe that our workload is indeed increasing,” Dominguez said. “Not only are we preparing for the snow and the incoming weather that's coming our way. But we're also preparing for what needs to happen in the spring when the damage to the roadways in terms of extreme high temperatures, low temperatures freezing thaw that cycle takes a toll on our infrastructure.”

Governor Hochul says the infrastructure improvements will improve roads’ lifespan and make them more resilient. In a statement, the Democrat said the investment could lead to increased tourism.

Acting Thruway Authority Executive Director Frank Hoare says most of the year is spent preparing for the winter. He says the investment, which is part a $32.9 billion five-year capital plan, helps keep safe and convenient travel available to New Yorkers and people from other states and countries.

“This was a process that started months and months ago. We started prepping our vehicles, inspecting them, making sure that they will do the work that we need to do them in a safe manner,” Hoare said. “We have, make sure our folks are trained and retrained in the latest and best to provide to get that mission done and to do it safely. And then finally to stockpile, make sure we have all the materials that we need, for instance, salt and other materials to again, make the roads safe and get us get us through the winter.”

Faced with a shortage of drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License in recent years, Hoare says there are more than 650 staff working on snow and ice operations, more than 400 vehicles— including 27 new snow plows — and nearly 130,000 tons of salt on hand.

Dominguez says more than 400 drivers have been hired over the last year. She adds that the DOT is offering on-the-job training— meaning you don’t need a CDL to apply. Dominguez says more competitive wages made the hirings possible.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray says while local and state governments are doing their best to keep the roads clear, drivers should make a plan to keep themselves safe if they get stuck on the roads.

“That includes things like extra batteries, extra blankets, if you haven't yet put your snow shovel in your car, or a blanket in your car, or some snacks in your car or flashlight in your car, today is a great day to do that,” Bray said. “Make sure you've got cell phone chargers, know who you're going to check on.”

Dominguez encourages everyone to be safe this season.

“When the governor calls for you to stay off the roads, when your local leaders and emergency officials say ‘stay off the roads,’ please stay off the roads,” Dominguez said. “Give DOT and our local DOT Public Works partners a chance to do the work that they do clearing the way to keep all New Yorkers safe.”

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.