UPDATED: Israel's Earmark Spending Questioned

An investigative report shows the Dix Hills representative is one of 33 members of Congress to fund projects that have the potential to improve their own properties.

An investigation by The Washington Post uncovered that about 33 members of Congress, including Rep. Steve Israel, D-Dix Hills, helped direct millions of dollars in earmarks to public projects that had the potential to enhance the communities of each of the lawmakers mentioned in the investigation.

The research showed that in 2008, Israel earmarked $490,000 to study Commack Road, bordering Dix Hills, with the goal of easing traffic along busy bypass. The Post points out that the Congressman's home (in red on the map) is within two miles of the roadway. According to the Post, the project has stalled and the money is yet to be spent. 

The study is regarding a freight-rail-truck Intermodal facility proposed by the New York State Department of Transportation. The project is intended to decrease regional truck traffic by encouraging use of freight rail for shipping and reducing the use of large tractor-trailers to deliver merchandise across Long Island. However, critics project the facility to draw hundreds of trucks per day to the area.

Israel’s office said the the study has been held up due to jurisdiction conflicts on the local level.

An Israel spokeswoman said that the congressman secured the resources for the study but the county is responsible for implementing it.

"...The traffic on Commack Road is already terrible and with the introduction of the intermodal, it’s going to get even worse. Something has to be done to alleviate the congestion. All levels of government (local, state, federal) have been involved in this issue. It’s clearly a priority to thousands of Long Islanders," she said.

*This article has been updated as of Feb. 9.

David Livingston February 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM
So let's vote him in for another term!
George W February 12, 2012 at 03:02 PM
There are so many angles to this story. The proposed intermodal facility would have built a new road through parkland, and would have its own cost to maintain. So, while it would save some maintenance cost on existing roads, that savings would be offset, to a greater or lesser degree, by the new road. Shifting truck traffic to Indian Head Road would present its own dangers. That road has an almost highway-like feel to it, and people drive accordingly. There are sides roads that enter Indian Head Road from residential areas. Speeding is common, and years ago, a resident who lived across the road from the United Cerebral Palsy building was wiped out by a truck as he came out of his driveway (which connects directly to Indian Head Road). If Gerry Wolcott has his way, and is allowed to build 9000 housing units south of the LIE on Commack Road, you can probably expect some serious gridlock. The Tanger Mall has already caused much heavier traffic, and a new community would just make the mess bigger. While these are issues that can be debated, and there will always be differing opinions, I really think that our government needs to start spending money the way most of us do - within our means. Any politician, who doesn't understand that, in my opinion, should be replaced by someone who does. Long Island had been my home for 64 years, and I'm finally feeling the pinch of the outrageous taxes, and may have to join the others who have moved to more affordable places.
America First! March 06, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Concerned Citizen March 06, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Government earmark spending is out of control and needs to be curbed in a big way. That said, if the money is there and will not be returned to the taxpayer, do you think that our local congressman should tap into the funds for their own district rather than have another district in another state take control of these funds? This is a question, not a position in a debate. Looking for earmark funding so close to the congressman’s home does not bode well for his integrity, which seems to be the main point of the Washington Post article. I wonder if the congressman made a public declaration that his project was so close to his home when he filed for the earmark.
Denis Byrne January 12, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Building new roads through NY State Parkland or preserve land is not legal. The only solution would be to modify the existing Sagtikos Parkway to allow trucks up to a certain exit point. There is no longer a valid reason to build a government-funded LITRIM Intermodal at Pilgrim since private firms have constructed a facility in Yaphank known as BRT and plan to expand that one. By the way they once stated they would not ship out garbage, but that changed once Sandy hit the region. Did anyone really think that the Pilgrim site would NOT be used for garbage should it ever be built? The truth is we should not build any major new roads or bypasses unless they can somehow be built in a way that you are not bulldozing forest lands or putting the roads through residential areas, which will be difficult.


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