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Miner asks Congress to replenish federal Highway Trust Fund

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is calling on Congress to approve legislation replenishing the federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides funding for road and highway construction.

The fund, which the government also uses for mass-transit projects, will “run out of money” on May 31, according to a news release Miner’s office distributed on Thursday.

Miner made her announcement Thursday in front of Syracuse University’s David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at 601 E. Genesee St. in Syracuse, located near Interstate 81 (I-81).

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Financing from the Highway Trust Fund will determine the highway’s future, Miner’s office said.

“Infrastructure is critical to our communities and it is imperative that we receive federal support,” Miner said. “It has always been a bipartisan issue … Democrats and Republicans can agree that cities need these important investments. With good infrastructure investments today, we can make a level playing field where the private sector can grow and prosper.”

The U.S. established the federal Highway Trust Fund in 1956 as part of the development of the nation’s interstate-highway system.

It is divided into two silos, including one highway account which funds road-construction projects and a mass-transit account, which the federal government created in the 1980s to help fund public-transportation projects, according to the news release.

Built in the 1950s, a 1.4 mile stretch of the elevated I-81 runs directly through the center of downtown Syracuse.

The elevated viaduct will reach the end of its useful life in 2017, Miner’s office said.

The New York State Department of Transportation is currently studying alternatives to the existing viaduct.

Proposed alternatives cost hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars, and officials expect the project will require “extensive” federal funding, the release stated.

“We are trying to create a [21st] century city on [19th] century infrastructure. Now is the time for each party in Congress to lead and replenish the Highway Trust Fund for our construction and mass transportation needs,” Miner said.

Infrastructure throughout New York has suffered from lack of investment, Miner contended.

Her release cited a 2013 report  from the American Society of Civil Engineers indicating 27 percent of the more than 17,000 bridges in New York are considered “functionally obsolete” and 11 percent are “structurally deficient.”

Additionally, the report found that 23 percent of New York’s 16,000-plus miles of major roads are in “poor condition.”

 

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

 

 

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