By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Parents across the city may have reason to be optimistic as officials announced a plan to accelerate work on more than $1 billion of infrastructure projects – including removing lighting fixtures contaminated with toxic PCBs from 100 city schools and libraries.
The proposal also covers road, street and bridge repairs, and waterfront infrastructure development. Most of the projects would be completed within 20 months.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Comptroller John C. Liu and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn made the joint announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall on Wednesday.
The city will borrow money needed for the projects now, while interest rates are low, rather than later when rates may increase. The Mayor said this would save taxpayers more than $200 million over the life of the bonds and create an estimated 8,000 jobs.
According to Mayor Bloomberg, Comptroller Liu first raised the idea for an accelerated capital spending plan earlier this year. The Mayor said his administration worked with the Comptroller to structure the finances for the changes, and also worked with the City Council to identify areas where accelerated investment would meet immediate needs and provide savings.
“Working with Comptroller Liu and Speaker Quinn, we were able to move beyond our different opinions to finalize a plan that fast-tracks critical infrastructure projects,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
He pointed to the cooperation of all three officials as an example of “how, in contrast to places like Washington where people from opposing parties or ideas cannot get anything accomplished, here in New York City, we can work together to what is right for our city.”
Comptroller Liu said he applauded the Mayor and the City Council “for recognizing this as a good idea and following through on it.”
“One of the great things that will happen because of this acceleration is that we will be able to much more quickly remove the PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that are in the light fixtures at many New York City schools,” Speaker Quinn said in a statement late Wednesday. “We've heard parents and teachers raise urgent concerns about the presence of these chemicals for a long time. The City has committed to a 10-year plan for replacing these lights, but parents understandably have asked us to move faster. That's why we've made PCB removal a priority in the accelerated plan.”
The City will move up capital commitments to FY 2013 and FY 2014 for certain projects that were to be done later in the capital plan. The projects set for accelerated capital funding include:
$175 million in FY 2013 and $115 million in FY 2014 for repairs and upgrades to 100 school buildings
$59.8 million to resurface additional 300 lane-miles of roadway
$37.7 million on street reconstruction
$19.1 million for vehicular and pedestrian bridge repair
$13.2 million for waterfront infrastructure