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Lawmakers: Local roads, bridges, and culverts need funding boost immediately

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State legislators, county and town highway superintendents, and other local leaders have called for increased state support for local roads, bridges, and culverts.

The group held a news conference at the Capitol, joined by Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay. Hundreds of local transportation advocates from throughout the state were also present for their annual “Local Roads Are Essential” advocacy campaign, sponsored by the New York State Association of County Highway Superintendents and the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways.

Since 2013, State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning), and their colleagues have been pushing for greater state investment in New York’s local transportation infrastructure. The group noted that over the past decade, significant increased state support has been provided for New York’s counties, cities, towns, and villages, but they charged that Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2023-2024 Executive Budget fails to recognize the impact of a 22% construction inflation rate and how the exorbitant, inflationary cost increases for fuel, asphalt, and steel are severely straining county and town transportation budgets.

In a March 7, 2023 letter to Hochul and legislative leaders, O’Mara, Palmesano, and their Senate and Assembly colleagues called for an increase in the base funding level for Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) by $200 million to a total of $738 million, an increase in Extreme Winter Recovery funding by $70 million to $170 million, an increase in the CHIPS bidding threshold from $350,000 to $750,000, and the restoration of the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF) to its originally intended purpose as a dedicated, pay-as-you-go funding source for critical transportation repairs and capital projects.

The coalition notes that aging infrastructure strains nearly every segment of the economy, costing New York motorists an additional $28 billion annually due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic accidents, and congestion-related delays. According to TRIP, a national transportation advocacy group, roads and bridges that are deficient, congested, or lack desirable safety features cost New York motorists up to $3,200 per driver in some areas.