Friday, 15 March 2019 15:43

OP ED: Road and Bridge Funding Needed in Upstate New York

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OP ED: Road and Bridge Funding Needed in Upstate New York Supplied photo

Our local roads and bridges are in need of serious investments.

The New York State Comptroller estimates there will be $89 billion in unmet local infrastructure needs over the next 20 years with as much as $27.4 billion needed for bridges alone. The responsibility to take care of these major infrastructure costs, however, lies on the backs of local taxpayers with 87% of the state’s roads and half of the state’s bridges up to localities to maintain. That is why state assistance programs like Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) are essential to everyone’s safety.

For decades—recognizing the high cost of road repair and maintenance that involves specialized grinding and paving equipment, asphalt, sealants, paint, etc.—the state has funded CHIPs to assist localities and help reduce the local tax burden. In Albany, however, adequate funding for what most would consider basic infrastructure needs in Upstate is not a guarantee during budget time. For many years, funding for CHIPs remained flat. But thanks to a focused, collaborative effort between state representatives and local highway superintendents, CHIPs funding has increased in recent years. Earlier this month, local highway superintendents traveled once again to Albany to advocate for the program. This year we’re asking for annual increases over 5 years. A 5-year increase would give localities a chance to plan and address repairs before roads need major rehabilitation which is several times more costly.

Adequate state funding for our roads and bridges helps ensure our basic safety needs are met. It ensures safety for kids who board school buses each day, safety for families traveling to where they need to be on a daily basis, and safety for our first responders. Additionally, safe and passable roads help businesses keep customers and indicate to potential investors that our communities are open for business.

In addition to CHIPs, other state programs like PAVE-NY, BRIDGE-NY, and Extreme Winter Recovery also help localities to maintain roads and bridges and reduce the local tax burden. In this year’s proposed budget, however, funding for Extreme Winter Recovery has been eliminated. I am pushing for the restoration of these funds so that localities can invest in projects that will endure winter weather. If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

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