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City to Ramp Up PCB Removal From Schools Under Accelerated Spending Plan

By Jill Colvin | October 17, 2012 6:12pm

CITY HALL — The city will speed up its replacement of PCB-laden light fixtures at city schools and ramp up road repairs under an accelerated spending plan announced Wednesday.

Instead of waiting years to complete planned work and repairs, the city has decided to spend an additional $1 billion on infrastructure projects over the next two years.

The projects, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg described as “unglamorous,” include an additional $300 million to fund repairs and upgrades at 100 school buildings, and $20 million to improve living conditions at NYCHA buildings.

The plan also calls for $60 million to resurface an extra 300-miles of roadway to stamp out potholes, $40 million for new street reconstruction and $19 million for bridge repairs.

Also slated are $20 million to fast-track sewer and water main projects as well as $14 million to repair crumbling piers and other waterfront projects.

“These are fixing things that are broken," the mayor said at a press conference at City Hall, explaining that the city learned from the last financial crisis that failing to invest in infrastructure has major costs in the future.

“We’re making them now instead of, quote, ‘at some point down the road,'" he said.

The ramped-up spending, which was first floated by embattled City Comptroller John Liu during his State of the City speech, is also intended to take better advantage of historically-low interest rates and create new jobs as the economy continues to lag.

Officials estimated the work, which will focus on projects that are already underway or shovel-ready, will create approximately 8,000 new (mostly construction) jobs over the next two fiscal years.

"This plan will deliver a much-needed shot in the arm to our city’s economy," said Liu.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the money would also help kick-start projects that mean a great deal to New Yorkers, including more quickly removing the PCBs in the light fixtures in public schools.

"We have heard parents and teachers raise desperate concerns about this for a long time,” she said.

Bloomberg estimated that, with the new funding, many of the projects could be complete within the next 20 months — not long after his tenure ends.

But Bloomberg insisted that legacy-building wasn’t part of the motivation.

“These aren’t the big ideas, like a new engineering campus on Roosevelt Island,” he said. “These are things you just have to do.”