WEST ISLIP - A debate in Congress over a highway-funding bill could mean some roads and bridges on Long Island don't get repaired.
Trade-union members and the Long Island Contractors' Association held a rally Thursday in West Islip to raise awareness about the need to boost spending on road maintenance across the Island. They point to the Sunrise Highway service road as an example, saying it has potholes and hasn't been resurfaced in decades.
"Long Island normally gets $250 million a year," says Marc Herbst, of the Long Island Contractors' Association. "They've only spent $30 million because they can't plan any long-term projects. It's not working."
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Congress sent President Barack Obama a three-month bill to keep highway and transit money flowing to states on Thursday, one day before the deadline for a cutoff of funds. Congress is now headed into a recess.
Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a sweeping, long-term transportation bill, setting up discussions with the House this fall about the future of transportation policy and how to pay for programs.
Local lawmakers say they can't afford to make repairs beyond basic cleaning and patchwork without more funds from Washington.
"It's gone on for too long," says Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). "You're never going to get the perfect bill. But in the meantime our roads are deteriorating, transit systems are falling apart. We have to get it done."