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Decades Old Law To Blame For Long Island’s Snow Removal Woes?

Snow plows work to clear the Long Island Expressway after the powerful blizzard. (credit: CBS 2)

Snow plows work to clear the Long Island Expressway after the powerful blizzard. (credit: CBS 2)

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HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – An obscure state law may be partly to blame for the snow-clearing problems on Long Island during the recent blizzard.

Special equipment is needed to clear heavy snow piled up to three feet in spots.

But Newsday reports that a 1936 state statute limits how much towns can spend on heavy machinery.

Under the law, Smithtown can only spend $800,000 a year on the necessary machinery needed to clear away the snow. A single plow can cost $300,000, WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola reported.

Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said that doesn’t go a long way in a community that needs plows, cement mixers and machines for grading and scraping roads.

Private contractors with plows attached to pick-up trucks cannot handle three feet of snow, which many areas in Suffolk were hit with during last weekend’s blizzard.

Many trucks and plows that tried to clear up to 30 inches of snow off some Long Island streets got stuck or broke down during the blizzard. But the state law prevents town politicians from upgrading their fleets because of the law.

Smithtown and Brookhaven officials have asked for state lawmakers to change the limits, but there is not much support for new spending.

Last week, Brookhaven’s highway chief stepped down following criticism for the town’s handling of snow removal.

Islip gets around the law by raising money through bond sales, Kosola reported.

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