To the editor:
As a long-time resident of Ossining, I share local concerns about state roads in our area. I also drive on these roads and am committed to ensuring that safety issues are addressed. Upon taking office, my staff immediately reached out to the NYS Department of Transportation with concerns from my constituents. We have a meeting scheduled with the regional office later this month. I will bring forward a compilation of the concerns that have been reported to my office and try to understand why the roads are in such bad condition, as well as get more insight into the DOT’s process for making repairs and next steps.
I am hearing a lot from Ossining residents on this issue, and I strongly encourage residents in the other municipalities in my district to also contact my office with their concerns about state roads. I have also reached out to municipal officials on this and other issues as part of my listening tour of the district.
In the short term, the 1-800-POTHOLE (1-800-768-4653) number is back in operation for the purpose of logging and processing reports of potholes. I implore everyone to call this number with the specific location of potholes so that there is a record of the existence of these potholes and a report to the state, which will help support my conversations with the DOT. Though you may not speak directly with a person when you call this number, there are staff on the other end who log and create what essentially amount to “tickets” in a system that helps the DOT know where to put resources. This is the most effective way of reporting potholes. If you are not sure whether or not the road in question is a local, county, or state road, contact your local Highway Department or Department of Public Works. If you need to file a claim for damages to your vehicle caused by potholes or other issues on a state road, there is a website you can visit to get more information and forms: https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/legal-services-division/smallclaims.
I am a new member on the Local Governments committee in the Assembly, and my office is working on legislation to help municipalities address the state roads in their jurisdictions. As Ossining Town Supervisor, I worked hard to make fiscally responsible decisions that enabled us to undertake large repaving projects on several of our roads. I also know firsthand how talented our local highway and DPW crews are, and how they may be better equipped to respond to local repairs if NYSDOT crews cannot get to them in a timely fashion. If municipalities are better positioned to be able to address work in their areas, perhaps the DOT can support municipalities in undertaking projects rather than allowing state roads to languish on a longer timetable. I will update you on the progress of this legislation as my staff and I continue to research this issue and seek input from experts on road maintenance and transportation infrastructure.
In the long term, we will have to adapt our approach to road maintenance in light of climate change. My office is frequently asked, and I wonder myself, why are the potholes so bad this year, when we have received very little snowfall? In one of our conversations with a DOT representative, we learned that the strategies employed in the past to temporarily repair potholes during the winter before the asphalt plants re-open in the spring are proving to be less effective in this warmer and rainier winter we are experiencing. We must move as quickly as possible toward a comprehensive, climate-adaptive approach to maintaining our infrastructure.
Though I do not have direct control over the Department of Transportation, and I cannot go out and pave all of the roads myself, my office is here to help. Please feel free to call (914) 941-1111 or email email@example.com. As with other issues, I am committed to listening to your concerns and advocating for our communities.