Lawmakers aim to hold NY accountable for pothole damage on state roadways

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HARTSDALE -

While drivers battle potholes on state-owned roadways, lawmakers are battling current laws to hold the state of New York accountable for any damages.

Hartsdale Automotive says 25 cars roll in each day for repairs.

“They come in here with flat tires, bent wheels and it's all due to the bad road conditions out there,” says Hartsdale Automotive manager Tom Caggiano.

Caggiano says his customers complain mainly during the pothole-prone winter months, especially on New York state-owned and operated roadways.

He says repair bills can get upward of $1,000, $1,200 or $1,500.

Under the current state highway law, the state is exempt from liability for damages along state highways from Nov. 15 to May 1.

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who represents Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant, is pushing for legislation requiring the state to reimburse drivers for pothole related repairs year-round.

“The state has insulated itself,” he said by phone. “By saying the state is liable for damages suffered by any person, for defects on state highways, no matter what time it occurs, will go a long way, in forcing the state to face the fact our roads are in terrible shape and they have to spend the efforts and money to repair state roads.”

Caggiano agrees, saying repairs wouldn't be an issue if the state upgraded its roads.

“When they repair these roads, they need to upgrade the paving. There's other parts of the country that have the same conditions we have and they don't have these problems,” he says.

The bill is currently in committee and a full vote by the Assembly could take place by the end of June.

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