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Obama jobs bill could cover Queens projects: Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act could inject funding into many projects planned for Queens, such as the repair of the Kosciusko Bridge. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said last week 213 city projects could benefit from the American Jobs Act, including improvements to subways, bridges and roads throughout Queens.

Speaking on an Oct. 4 conference call with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Gillibrand urged Congress to pass the act, saying it would inject $3 billion into New York state and create 38,000 local jobs.

“There’s no shortage of projects we can get started on that can revitalize the economy,” Gillibrand said.

The senator said most of the projects in the state Department of Transportation has slated for fiscal years 2011-14 are currently unfunded. While the state budget for fiscal year 2012 is still being worked on, dollars from the act could get some of the projects going right away.

“Pure and simple, this is really a way to get people to work in building America’s infrastructure,” LaHood said.

The state DOT’s four-year plan calls for hundreds of dollars in Queens projects, ranging from impact studies and tree replantings along highways to the $203.8 million replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge.

Some of the pricier projects include $478.3 million to modernize the R subway line’s signal system at the 71st Avenue, Union Turnpike and Roosevelt Avenue stops; a $98 million rehabilitation of the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge over the Van Wyck Expressway; a $45.6 million reconstruction of the two Hempstead Avenue Bridges over the Cross Island Parkway; and a $34.7 million alteration to the 112th Street pedestrian bridge in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The state DOT also has numerous plans for improvements to subway stops and roads throughout the borough.

“Certainly New York has not been bashful in letting us know what their transport needs are,” Gillibrand said.

The American Jobs Act is the brainchild of President Barack Obama. The president urged Congress last Thursday to vote on the bill, saying it could prevent another downturn if the markets in Europe worsen.

“This is not a game,” Obama said. “This is not the time for the usual political gridlock.”

Gillibrand said the nation’s infrastructure has fallen from sixth in the world to 16th during the course of four years, according to a World Economic Forum Study. She said the bill would also create jobs through the renovation of homes and businesses, and would institute a National Infrastructure Bank, which would be government-owned and led by independent infrastructure and financial experts.

This bank would direct funds to projects of at least $100 million and of national or regional significance.

“These are not Democratic or Republican ideas,” Gillibrand said. “They are just common sense, good ideas.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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