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State grants more than $900,000 for Little Lake Erie culvert

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NARROWSBURG, NY — The New York Department of Transportation has granted the Town of Tusten $921,342 to repair the Little Lake Erie culvert.

Councilmember Jane Luchsinger, who has been overseeing grant applications through the Bridge New York program, received word on November 13 that the second design submitted to the state-run program has been accepted. For clarification, the culvert—which is a tunnel to funnel water underneath the road—is typically referred to as the Little Lake Erie Bridge or dam, and is located near the end of Main St.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created the Bridge NY program in 2015, and on November 13 awarded more than $262.2 million in enhanced funding to municipal governments throughout the state, according to a press release. Tusten will join 164 other individual projects in 95 communities in New York. Not including this most recent funding, the state program has invested $300 million in bridges and culverts in the state.

This recent announcement seems to bring a saga of complicated federal-funding maneuvering to an end for the town.

In January, 2017, the town received $198,000 from the New York Department of Transportation to repair the culvert. “Our project was selected through a competitive process, and the funding awarded is equal to 100% of the estimate to replace the bridge,” Luchsinger wrote in The River Reporter that year. “We expect that construction will begin this spring. We are pleased to be able to save Tusten taxpayers this expense as a result of the grant award.”

Later that year, however, the state rejected the town’s design proposal because it didn’t meet federal regulations. The grant money is made up of federal funds funneled through the state. “When you receive those funds, then you have to follow the rules and regulations of the feds. It changes everything,” Luchsinger said at the November Tusten Town Council meeting Monday night.

On the second go-round, the town contracted with an engineering firm to reassess the repairs. After taking into account the need for certain federally mandated surveys and design requirements, the firm reapplied for the grant on behalf of the town, with a much higher sum in mind.

That nearly $1 million grant was awarded last week, and construction will begin soon. “It will take a little while, just like [the Narrowsburg Bridge],” Luchsinger said.

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