By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA

Facing cuts in New York state-level transportation spending, local investment in highway, street and bridge construction is more important than ever in communities on Long Island. A new report from ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black and released Sept. 9 by the Long Island Contractors’ Association (LICA) details local spending in five Long Island regions: Islip, Oyster Bay, Smithtown, Hempstead, and Nassau County.

The analysis of 62 projects found that the type of contract and number of bidders can have an impact on costs and the bid price for materials. Between 2014 and 2017, local government spending on roads, bridges and highways averaged $271 million, 65 percent of all spending in the region. But state spending is expected to drop from a 2018 high of $274 million to $158 million in 2019, and to $109 million in 2020.

“This means local transportation investment is more critical than ever to support this market,” LICA said in a press release.

The projects examined in the report included three different types of contracts; specific projects based on delivery of a set of improvements to a road or bridge (35 projects valued at $78.6 million); bundled projects including identifiable road repair work (15 projects valued at $55 million); and open-ended contracts, which last an average of 595 days, (12 projects valued at nearly $29.3 million). Depending on the type of contract, changes in the material price of items such as asphalt can swing nearly 10 percent, the data showed.

“Now is the time to dedicate state funds to ensure Long Islanders get the bridge, street and road improvements they deserve, which also support high quality, good paying jobs,” said LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst. “Long Island and its residents make up a critical part of the New York economy and population, we need our infrastructure to reflect that.”

The report quickly received media attention in Long Island’s Newsday.