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Road and Bridge Funding Needed in Upstate New York

By Will Barclay

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Our local roads and bridges are in need of serious investments. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli forecasts $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 percent 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. In early March, local highway superintendents traveled once again to Albany to advocate for the program. This year, we’re asking for annual increases over five years. A five-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 assist localities in maintaining roads and bridges and reducing 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.         

William (Will) A. Barclay is the Republican representative of the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact him at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or (315) 598-5185.

 

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