Rockland Christens New $40-Million Complex That Houses County’s Highway Department

By JOHN JORDAN – November 22, 2023

CHESTNUT RIDGE, NY—A project in Rockland County that has been debated, advertised for bid, withdrawn, then moth-balled and delayed for nearly six decades, has finally been completed. On Tues., Nov. 14, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Rockland County Highway Superintendent Charles “Skip” Vezzetti staged a ribbon cutting at the all-new $40-million county highway facility in Chestnut Ridge.

Worth Construction of Bethel, CT recently completed the 114,500-square-foot facility, located on 24 acres at 26 Scotland Hill Road. Rockland County acquired the property specifically for the Highway Department complex for $1 from New York State Department of Transportation.

At the press conference, County Executive Day referencing the generational journey to get the new highway facility built, which first began in 1965, said, “To say this is a long time coming would be an understatement.”

Mr. Vezzetti thanked the Rockland County Executive, the County Legislature, the Town of Chestnut Ridge and the New York State Department of Transportation and New York State Thruway Authority for their cooperation in advancing the project to completion. “I want to thank Ross Pepe, Matt Pepe, John Cooney, Jr., of the (Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc.) and (Building Contractors Association) membership for their support.” He also thanked the late Jerry Keahon, a former CIC Board Director, who passed away in September “before he could see this come to fruition.”

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said that if construction of the county’s highway facility was delayed any further, costs could have escalated as much as $20 million due to higher interest rates.

Building a new Highway Department facility to replace the outdated buildings in New City and Stony Point garage were the topic of discussion since the 1960s. In 2003 design work commenced and in 2007 bids were procured and a low bid of $34.6-milllion was secured for the project, which was considerably higher than county budget estimates at the time. The project was subsequently shelved in 2010 due to the ongoing economic crisis at the time.

The prior facility was constructed in 1935 and first flagged for needed upgrades in 1965 when then Highway Superintendent Nelson W. Hall recommended to the Rockland County Board of Supervisors that it was time to move and update the county’s highway garage, Mr. Vezzetti said.

Finally, in 2020, County Executive Day and the Rockland County Legislature passed a bond resolution for the construction of the new facility that was christened this month.

The new complex features seven buildings that include: a new maintenance repair building; indoor storage for the county Highway Department’s fleet; capacity to store 10,000 tons of salt, doubling the current capacity; generators and fuel capacity to maintain operations for two weeks without outside assistance and a green building, including natural and recycled materials for construction and passive solar.

The facility, which houses the department’s administrative staff, also has a large-vehicle wash facility that will increase the life expectancy of county vehicles by 20%, saving about $190,000 a year.

“Over the last four decades Rockland County Highway Department has seen the lane miles within its responsibility increase 28%,” said County Executive Day. He acknowledged the long delay to complete the project but noted that had the county waited until now, with today’s much higher borrowing rates, the project could have cost another $20 million to complete.

“The Rockland County Highway Department has moved from the oldest, longest, continuously used county highway facility in the state to a modern, state of the art environmentally correct green facility located at the center of our service area to serve the residents of our county in the most efficient manner,” said Highway Superintendent Vezzetti, summarizing its features and benefits. He added, “It may not be the biggest, but it is the best coordinated and planned highway facility in the state.”

The County Highway Department is responsible for 72 bridges and 170 miles of road, the conditions of both have Rockland rated as one of the top Highway Departments in the entire state, Rockland County officials stated. The Highway Department’s heavy construction vehicles will be kept offsite at 550 Old Nyack Turnpike in Nanuet.

At the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Vezzetti found a speech he had hoped to give some seven years earlier in which he praised the unionized building trades for their work on the project. He also gave special recognition to general contractor Worth Construction, McLaren Engineering Group, All Bright Electric and several other enterprises that helped build the new complex.

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