Governor suspends hundred of construction projects

Gov. David Paterson is suspending hundreds of current and new construction projects because of the s

Gov. David Paterson is suspending hundreds of current and new construction projects because of the state’s budget woes, including a highway to Fort Drum and a major interchange on Long Island.

Paterson administration officials told The Associated Press today that all projects not paid for by federal economic stimulus funds will be delayed until the Legislature and the governor agree on a 2010-11 budget or emergency funding.

The extraordinary order also tells contractors on existing projects that the state won’t fund any work after the start of the new fiscal year on Thursday until there is a budget or emergency funds. The soonest that could happen is April 7, when the Legislature returns. Or it could come April 14, when an emergency spending appropriation expires.

The order exempts projects that are planned to address “emergency health and safety needs” as certified by the Division of Budget. Contractors were to be notified today.

The action will be significant for communities statewide where the projects are under way or planned.

Suspending the work will probably result in layoffs and setbacks for local economies. It will also likely put pressure on senators and Assembly members who left Albany this week to take their Passover-Easter vacation without agreeing on a new budget.

“This is a difficult choice and it shows how difficult this is, because these projects do put people to work,” said Timothy Gilchrist, one of Paterson’s senior advisers.

Among the high-profile jobs that will be delayed is a highway connector project to the Fort Drum Army base in northern New York, for which a contract had been awarded Thursday.

Contractors will have to decide whether to go ahead without a flow of state cash as they contemplate the Interstate 87 Exit 6 redesign on the Adirondack Northway in Albany County and the Route 110 interchange project on the Long Island Expressway.

There was no immediate estimate of the number of jobs or the value of projects that will be affected, Gilchrist said.

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