2017-08-16 / Opinion

Area Senators Weigh In on Gov. Cuomo’s Light Proposal

By Rosie Cunningham

DELAWARE COUNTY - Area officials weigh in and unanimously agree that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bright idea to light New York City bridges would be money poorly spent.

Cuomo proposed a plan to install high-tech, color changing lights on New York City’s bridges. A government watchdog group this month called for a state probe into what are conflicting explanations for how much the lights cost and where that money will come from, according to an article in Albany Times Union (Aug. 14). Estimates have ranged from $216 million to $350 million.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been proudly promoting a project to outfit the region’s bridges with pulsating, multi-colored LED lights that could provide choreographed light shows in concert with the city’s skyscrapers. According to a press release, he believes it will be an asset in drawing tourists and they are energy efficient.

A lot of the criticism has to do with the funding for the lights and as discussed at a Republican dinner in Middletown in May, money would be better spent on improving and fixing infrastructure in New York state.

“I do not believe that spending millions of dollars on high-tech lights for bridges in New York City is the right course of action,” said Senator John Bonacic (42nd District). “There are infrastructure needs in upstate communities, including Delaware County, and I believe that money should be spent to address these issues. My colleagues and I in the senate majority have secured record investments in infrastructure spending, $29 billion for fiscal year 2017- 2018, and I will continue to fight to ensure that Delaware County receives its fair share. I am also hopeful that the federal government will look to significantly invest in infrastructure spending as well.”

According to a report from the USA Today Network, Delaware County byways is ranked third on the top ten list of 10 most dangerous county roads to be on.

According to the USA Today Network, in 2015, the fatality rate was 17.37 per 100,000 population. Of the eight people killed that year, the bulk of deaths - five - occurred in alcohol-related crashes and in four deaths, speeding was implicated.

“Quality roads and bridges are indispensable when it comes to improving our economy and making sure the motoring public is safe. I represent all or part of nine counties and travel our local highways regularly; I know as well as anyone that improvements are needed,” Senator James L. Seward said. “I have consistently fought for and won increased state aid for our local infrastructure and will continue to push for more funding to meet our upstate needs. I have also pressed for upstate parity, to make certain we are receiving our fair share of state aid when compared to New York City, and that effort will persist.

“Regarding the governor’s plan for decorative bridge lights in New York City – I believe there are more pressing needs. When I advocate for state funding, I take my cue from local residents, business owners, and elected officials and fight for their priorities. Right now the MTA has real problems with their subway system and actually transporting people from one place to another. There is no need for ornamental lights on their bridges.”

“There are many roads, bridges and highways in Delaware County that are in bad shape and need repair or updating,” said Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R-Bainbridge). “This is about priorities - the safety of our roads is much more critical than color changing lights on New York City Bridges. I believe that wasting money on a light show is not an efficient or responsible way to spend taxpayer money when there are so many other issues that need to be addressed. Perhaps we should shine a light on some of the bridges and roads in upstate for the governor to see how badly they are in need of repair. Spending the money on upstate infrastructure improvements, repairs and updates would be more responsible. This is something that always needs to be addressed, much of our infrastructure in New York is very outdated, and our harsh winters don’t help matters, there are always roads and highways that need repairs. When New York is no longer the highest taxed state in the nation, then and only then should the Governor be considering light shows on New York City bridges.”

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How about our cell service?

How about our cell service? Many areas of our county have none. We have needs and emergencies the same as the affluent areas, Verizon refused to give the Bloomville area service along with many county communities. King Andrew saw the need for Margaretville and with the wave of his hand it was done. That money planned for lighting can be saving lives here.