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$815M in Sandy aid to go to infrastructure improvements on Long Island

Originally published: October 24, 2013 3:41 PM
Updated: October 24, 2013 5:19 PM
By KEITH HERBERT. AND SARAH CRICHTON keith.herbert@newsday.com, sarah.crichton@newsday.com

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attends the Madison Square

Photo credit: Getty | Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attends the Madison Square Garden Transformation Unveiling at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Oct. 24, 2013)


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New equipment to prevent power outages, including “micro grids,” and funding to harden bridges and sewage treatment plants on Long Island are all part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plans for spending federal Sandy recovery aid.

Long Island will get a total of $815 million for a series of infrastructure improvements, Cuomo said in an announcement Thursday.

Cuomo announced what Long Island projects would be funded in a conference call with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone.

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With the anniversary of Sandy approaching next week, on Oct. 29, Cuomo said the government response to Sandy’s devastation on Long Island is shifting from crisis response, and a focus on homeowners who need assistance, to mitigation efforts before the next storm.

"Now we’re getting to the infrastructure improvement phase," Cuomo said during the 45-minute call. "One of the points of the program is to make things better than they were. We do anticipate another situation like this. We want to be better prepared than we were in the past."

Work to be done with the new round of federal funding include:

$50 million to create a Long Island power outage management system. The investment will be used for PSEG to detect power failures and allow utility workers to prioritize responses.

$20 million for “micro grids.” The money would be for local communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties to create the grids that would allow each community to store power from the wider electric grid for use when power from the main grid is interrupted.

$47 million for hardening bridges determined to be “vulnerable” during Sandy. In Suffolk, the Robert Moses Causeway over Fire Island Inlet in Islip and the causeway southbound and northbound over the state boat channel. In Nassau County, bridges on the Meadowbrook Parkway in Hempstead Town and the Sloop Parkway over Long Creek and Southern State Parkway bridge at Hempstead Lake.

"These are areas we thought were vulnerable and needed to be hardened," Cuomo said.

$455 million to improve the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in Nassau County. The plant, which serves more than a half-million Nassau residents, flooded during Sandy and stopped working for 56 hours. Two hundred million gallons of raw sewage flowed into channels and waterways. Improvements will include modernizing dikes, levees and electrical systems. In Suffolk County, the Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant will get a similar upgrade, for $242 million. The plan serves 120,000 homes, and came “within inches” of failing during Sandy, Bellone said.

Mangano thanked the governor for cooperation with local officials on the response to Sandy and identified the Bay Park improvements as his number one priority.

"Today we move forward to build a stronger wastewater treatment plant," Mangano said. "It’s a wonderful opportunity to clean up our environment."

Bellone also thanked Cuomo for addressing Suffolk’s post-Sandy needs: “A year after the storm we have made significant progress,” Bellone said. “We are not going to just rebuild, we’re going to rebuild stronger and better,” he said.

All the projects have been approved by federal Housing and Urban Development through its Community Development Block Grant program. Some money being used for upgrading the sewage plants will come from the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation, which the governor expects will be repaid from various federal sources.

The $2.1 billion for New York State is the second wave of CDBG Sandy recovery funding. The money is part of the $60 billion Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 signed by President Barack Obama in January.

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