SUFFOLK COUNTY

CALARCO: Infrastructure and Suffolk County's future

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COVID-19 has impacted our communities in ways we could not have imagined before the onset of the pandemic. In addition to the tragic loss of life and immeasurable stresses of this crisis, one of the most glaring outcomes of the last year has been the relocation from densely populated metropolises like New York City to various towns and villages across Long Island. Many sought refuge from crowded apartment buildings and mass transit and are now purchasing homes here at an incredible rate.

The median sale price for a home on Long Island was $515,000 in 2020, which is an 8.4 percent increase from 2019, according to OneKey Multiple Listing Service. The demand for homes on Long Island is at an all-time high, and we must act now to capitalize on this reverse migration to keep people and businesses here in the long term.

Our nation's infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, and Long Island is no exception. I believe we have a limited window of time to make Suffolk County a more attractive and logistically complementary place for new industries to set down roots. President Biden's infrastructure proposal, which lays out a roughly $2 trillion plan for improving the nation's infrastructure and shifting to greener energy over the next eight years, is key to bringing this to fruition.

While roads, public transit, and railways are not the only infrastructure components that need to be modernized for our collective success, they certainly play a significant role in making Long Island a more attractive place to live, work, and conduct business. By electrifying our railways, by installing third rails or using battery powered trains, we will not only be able to connect our downtowns more seamlessly, but we will also contribute to the goal of cleaner emissions, as electrified rail systems are considered zero-emission at the point of use.

Another tool that will lend to a better connected Suffolk County is a high-capacity public-bus system. Bus Rapid Transit, critical for efficient north-south transportation, boasts similar features to a light rail or metro system. It is more reliable, convenient, and faster than traditional bussing, as it has its own set of dedicated lanes, with busways and stations typically positioned in the center of the road with fast and frequent stops.

As a complement to improvements to our public transit systems, we must prioritize affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband projects. This will ensure that individuals operating businesses from home or the office can get the job done without the hindrance of outdated internet systems that slow productivity.

Additionally, we must improve our electrical grid to be compatible with renewable energy, which will create good union jobs and help us to reach the goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The goals outlined in the Climate Act are among the most ambitious of any significant economy across the globe. The Climate Act requires 70 percent of the state's electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100 percent of electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2040.

We must also consider childcare a vital component of any infrastructure conversation. A large part of President Biden's plan aims to support families, with provisions for a national paid family and medical leave program, childcare subsidies, and extensions of several tax credit expansions.

By working towards these goals, we will see the creation of thousands of jobs, and we have the opportunity to make Suffolk County a leader when it comes to sustainable economic growth.

I encourage my colleagues at all levels of government to join me in advocating for the needs of Long Island as we move towards a period of recovery with the support of the federal government. This funding is fundamental to the future of Suffolk County, and I am prepared to tackle these challenges head-on for the betterment of us all.

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