Erie County Legislature Chairman John Mills is calling for the creation of a new committee to address the county’s infrastructure issues after minority Democrats in the Legislature refused to sign off on a request to allocate an additional $5 million in surplus funds for more road repair projects across the county.
Last month County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz moved to increase the county’s 2014 road reconstruction budget by more than $4 million to $27.1 million. But Mills said more needs to be done in light of the extensive damage caused to county roads as a result of prolonged periods of subfreezing temperatures this past winter.
“Erie County is struggling to maintain its infrastructure and the administration fails to not only adequately repair the most immediate problems, but also to plan for the future,” Mills said.
Mills intends that the new highway committee would be comprised of officials from the county and local governments, including town and village highway supervisors.
“We are still in the first phase of creating the committee but I anticipate it will be operational soon and will be a great benefit to Erie County’s approach to maintaining our infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner,” Mills added.
A spokesman for Poloncarz Tuesday said there is little the committee could accomplish immediately because of the sheer number of road projects to which the county’s Department of Public Works is already committed and this year’s short construction season.
“It’s a short construction season this year and we increased the amount of work being done by $4.5 million. That’s about the limit of what DPW is able to handle,” said Mark Cornell, a spokesman for Poloncarz.
Cornell said increasing the county’s road reconstruction budget for this 2014 by $5 million will not necessarily result in a additional $5 million worth of road reconstruction projects getting done by the end of this construction season.
“There’s a finite amount of work that can be done in a year,” Cornell said.