Hudson Valley, NY –
An aging drainage pipe near the Metro North station in Middletown collapsed over the weekend...and Hudson Valley bureau chief Susan Barnett reports that important funding for repairs all over the state is still uncertain.
Workers replaced the drain and worked through the weekend to repair the hole in time for Monday morning's commuters, but the initial sinkhole was massive - 15 feet wide, 20 feet long and 12 feet deep. No one was hurt and crews worked throughout the weekend to repair it. But Middletown public works commissioner Jacob Tawil says that's just one of the issues in the city. Right now they're waiting for the weather to improve so a stream that runs under the city can be encased again. All the recent rain is accelerating deterioration of the hundred year old brick culvert, but they can't get in there to reline it.
New york's infrastructure has been a concern for years. In Kingston, the sewers have failed on a handful of occasions, and Mayor James Sottile says he's not content with just repairing failing systems. Kingston's using state money, and Sottile says area congressman Maurice Hinchey has been trying to funnel federal money to Kingston's sewers too.
New York City's aging aqueducts from its reservoir in the Catskills have been leaking...and after years of complaints it began the expensive repair process last year. New York's dams are a concern, too - some of them are the only barrier between major floods and downstream communities. Tawil says Middletown applied for far more federal money than it got, though he's grateful for what they did get. NYS Department of Transportation commissioner Stanley Gee admits there's a colossal job ahead.
Much of the country's infrastructure was built during the 1930s...part of the programs that kept Americans working during the Depression. And the state highways are now 50 years old. And ironically, a federal program to fund highway work and the states five year transportation plan both end this year. Unless they're renewed, that means fewer funds to deal with systems that desperately need work.