Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the commissioner of the Department of Transportation today announced reforms to speed up the I-287 project in Westchester County and provide additional aid to victims of tropical storms Lee and Irene, Gannett’s Aaron Scholder reports.
The governor announced the initiatives during a cabinet meeting that featured Peter Lehrer, a construction expert who worked on the Capitol renovation project, who led a review of the I-287 project.
Lehrer showed a presentation that detailed the cost overruns that have plagued the project, which began 15 years ago. The project was originally expected to cost $490 million but has ended up costing the state $568 million.
As a result of the review’s findings, the DOT announced changes in its oversight and planning of all projects as well as a redesign of the funding process for major projects.
The governor also announced that 97 percent of the bridges and roads that were damaged or destroyed as a result of the tropical storms have been repaired or replaced.
In addition, $8 million in aid was announced, $3 million of which will go to rebuilding small businesses while another $5 million will help replace and repair damaged furnaces.
Cuomo also pledged his support for mayors around the state who are dealing with Occupy protesters, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has forced Zuccotti Park protesters to leave.
“I support the actions of all the governments. Interestingly, different mayors have taken different actions and have devised different strategies,” Cuomo said.
‘“I understand the district attorney’s position here (in Albany). It is less than ideal but I understand it and we’ll continue to monitor the situation.”
Cuomo said he would continue to arrest protesters who tried to stay overnight on state parkland near the Capitol. Already 61 people have been arrested since Saturday.
Cuomo refused to say whether he will appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute those arrested at Lafayette Park in Albany. District Attorney David Soares has refused to charge those arrested with a crime.
The governor also addressed the $350 million budget gap that was announced earlier this week.
“We’re getting to the point where we need to make real decisions,” Cuomo said. “This is not about closing a gap in a budget. Frankly this is worse than that. This is a significant economic slowdown for this state which mirrors what is happening nationwide.”
Here’s some video on the presentation about the I-287 project: