Assemblymen call for more highway funding

Mar. 8—Area members of the state Assembly attended an event on Wednesday to draw attention to the need for funding for roads and bridges.

Assemblyman Joseph Angelino, R-Norwich and other Assembly Republicans held a press conference calling for an increase in funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program and the Extreme Winter Recovery fund.

"Local roads are essential to state infrastructure, and they must be prioritized in the budget. The vast majority of roads and bridges in our state are maintained by local authorities, yet they are underfunded.," Angelino said in a media release. "I have met with the highway superintendents of many of the counties I represent. They have told me that if CHIPs funding does not increase, their intended roadwork could decrease by 40% due to the increased prices of materials, supplies and labor. New York must do the right thing and invest in local roads and bridges."

Angelino also said increasing funding is good for the people of New York.

"If we increase funding to these programs, we will be able to improve the lives of many in our state," he said. "Jobs will be created by increasing the maintenance projects on our roads and bridges and making improvements to infrastructure will ultimately cost less than if we wait until the roads are in complete disrepair. Most important, however, is safety, by making sure our roads and bridges are up to standard, we can ensure that no one has to worry about the condition of the road causing an accident."

The legislators are asking to increase funding for CHIPs by $200 million and increase EWR by $70 million.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie echoed the call for funding.

"Our rural communities in particular need Albany to continue to provide the essential money needed to repair and modernize the rusted out, failing infrastructure not only for public safety but also to support the economic investments we are making," he said. "Together, this is a winning strategy that will set our communities and our state up for success for generations. I hope leaders in Albany will raise the proposed investment for programs like the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, BRIDGE-NY and others this budget season."

Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, issued a statement, saying, "Investing in our local roads is one of our chief responsibilities as a state. We are calling on the governor to increase funding proposed in the budget for CHIPS and EWR so it better reflects the inflation realities local municipalities face in the construction and maintenance of local roads and bridges."

Miller, who sits on the Assembly Committee on Transportation, argued that Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed flat funding for CHIPS and other programs is essentially a cut in funding.

Local governments maintain nearly 87% of the roads throughout the state and about half of the 18,000 bridges, according to a media release from Miller's office. "Inflation has impacted the costs associated with road and bridge construction. Overall, construction has faced a 22 percent inflation rate. Meanwhile, according to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), between July 2020 and July 2022, fuel costs rose by 260 percent, asphalt by 80 percent and steel by 115 percent. The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) increased aid to New York by 52 percent; however, a large majority of local roads do not qualify for the program," the release said.

Assemblyman Brian Maher, R-Walden, issued a statement, saying, "Our local roads are essential to healthy and thriving communities in New York state. We proposed important investment increases to CHIPS and EWR which help local governments maintain the roadways and bridges that keep New Yorkers moving. ... We're just asking for fair funding for upstate's needs, especially for our roads and bridges."

Maher said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has indicated that over the next 20 years there will be about $89 billion in unmet local infrastructure needs and, in 2017, he reported that local bridges require an estimated $27.4 billion in repairs.