Huntington Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli is campaigning for another term in office, fighting a fierce challenge by Republican Andre Sorrentino.
The quality of the roads in Huntington has been an issue for years, and Orelli points to a lack of financial resources as the cause. “We historically, in the town of Huntington have only paved an average of about 25 miles of road a year. We have 800 miles of road. At that rate, it will take 32 years to pave every road in Huntington once.”
Orelli said that most of Huntington’s main roads such as Old Country Road, Larkfield Road, Woodbury Road, West Neck Road among others, are usually paved twice, and even sometimes three times in the same time frame. Orelli says that the problem lies with the amount of funds provided to the highway department by the town board.
According to Orelli, the typical budget allocated to the Huntington highway department for paving has been around $5 million a year. He noted that the Town of Babylon is spending $10 million per year, plus additional funding from New York State, to pave “500 plus miles of road; while we have 800 miles…”
Orelli believes that the town should be spending at least $10 million dollars a year in order to get things done properly. He praised the state for recently paving Route 110, from Huntington Village to Huntington Station, and beginning work on Jericho Turnpike. Orelli said that he has reached out to the town board and supervisor to increase funds for the department.
Asked what qualifications got him into running the highway department, and why he should be re-elected as superintendent, Orelli replied, “I spent my life as an excavation and drainage contractor; building roads and installing storm drainage. I’m a person who is actually out in the field; making changes, correcting problems, fixing things that were left unattended for a very long time.” He said that he’s a drainage expert, and as such, “It’s just logical that I’m the right guy for the job.”
Orelli said that what piqued his interest to become highway superintendent was how poor Huntington’s snow plowing operation was. Orelli plowed for the town of Huntington as a teenager. “At that time my foreman said, ‘You have to plow curb to curb! You’re not going home until I can see those curbs.’ So, we plowed until the job was done.” He said that before he was elected, this wasn’t happening. “The state roads would be down to the asphalt, the county roads would be down to the asphalt; and the town roads would be snow moguls!” Orelli joked. “ It was like you were at Killington Mountain driving down past the post office!”
Orelli went on to list what he has done for the town. He changed the way ice was treated by eliminating the use of sand and switching to salt. He also began bringing employees in earlier; so when the snow started, they would be on top of the situation. He implemented the process of pre-treating the roads with salt as well. As he explained, this made things more efficient. With the ground already treated with salt before the snowfall, it eased plowing so that streets are now cleared down to the asphalt.
Orelli went on to mention other ways that he’s changed the department. He improved the process of repairing potholes. He explained how previously, workers would simply fill the holes with asphalt and pack it down; then cars driving over would pull it right out. He stated, “I made our guys start using compactors and sealing the holes; so now when we repair potholes, for the most part they stay in place.” According to Orelli, he also meets up with PSEG-LI every Thursday to go over trees that need removal due to conflict with wires. He said he has also improved the tree department by adding a rotating grapple, which he says in some cases has increased efficiency by 100%. He also has made changes to the drainage department. “Before I got elected, they were only installing 8-foot diameter drainage rings; I changed that.” He stated, “Now we also install 10-foot diameter rings, which are actually 60% more efficient than the 8-foot ones.”
Orelli mentioned how this year the department is going to pave 40 miles of road which is he believes is a possible record for the town. Orelli said, “I’ve added efficiencies to the department. I’ve improved our snow plowing operation. I’ve improved our pot hole repair. I’ve also advocated very strongly for money for paving.” He added “I think I’ve just done a very terrific job of doing that.” Orelli expressed his thoughts and feelings by saying “We’ve done a lot of things that made the department more effective and more efficient and that’s why I should be re- elected.” He promised, “I will try very hard to get as many roads paved as we can in each year.” He ended with, “I think, if you really care about the roads of Huntington, you’ll vote for me.”