Public officials and first responders gathered Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Terryville Fire Department Station 2 in Port Jefferson Station, announcing the recent injection of federal funding to support roadway safety in the Town of Brookhaven.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program was established by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Under this law, $5 billion will be spent over the next five years to limit roadway deaths and serious injuries.
U.S. Congressman Nick LaLota (R-NY1) announced that the Town of Brookhaven was awarded $380,000 through the grant program.
“The average homeowner here on Long Island pays $14- or $15,000 in [property] taxes,” he said. “What people expect in return are safe streets, good schools and smooth roads.”
The congressman also touched upon the perceived imbalance between taxes contributed and funds received from the federal government.
“For every dollar we send to Washington, Long Islanders get a mere 93 cents back in return investment,” LaLota said. “This infrastructure law is one of the ways that we can make that wrong right,” adding, “We can send money back to our local governments to ensure that we lower the tax burden and improve the quality of life.”
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) thanked LaLota for facilitating the additional infrastructure money. He said reducing roadway deaths is a matter of securing the necessary investment.
“For us to be successful, we have got to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease,” he said.
There are “3,700 miles of roads in Brookhaven Town,” the supervisor said. “We’re concerned about our roads, and the federal dollars will help us maintain [and] make them safer.”
Town of Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) also attended the event. He thanked LaLota on behalf of the Town Board.
“We have six council districts here in the Town of Brookhaven, and we want to thank Congressman LaLota for bringing this money home and let him know to keep that money coming,” he said.
Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) called the press conference, saying the location was decided based on a recent nearby traffic fatality. According to him, the federal funds will go toward the town’s plan to reduce traffic fatalities on town roads to zero.
“Grants like this, programs like this … are part of a larger effort to make sure that we make our roads as safe as possible,” he said. “We know we can’t legislate morality. There are always going to be people who don’t obey speed limits or drive distracted or impaired.”
However, the highway superintendent added that local governments “can design roads safer — we can use proven traffic-calming measures.”
Losquadro said the highway department uses several measures to identify problem roadways, such as the number of accidents, fatalities and other traffic-related incidents that occur upon them. When asked which roadways the $380,000 would target, he responded, “There are a number of criteria that go into examining that.”
Representing the Terryville Fire Department was 1st assistant chief Ray Kolb, who said the department responded to approximately 4,300 calls last year, “most of which were ambulance calls.”
Regarding the investment, he said the potential for more roadway repairs would support the work of the various first responder units within the area.
“We have paid 24-hour ambulance people, medical people, and they do a lot of our work for us,” the assistant chief said. “Anything we can get to help the safety of the roads is great.”