March 4, 2020
State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning), Assemblywoman Majorie Byrnes and others, joined a statewide coalition of county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders todaym, to call for increased state support for local roads, bridges, and culverts.
Hundreds of local highway superintendents and highway department employees representing nearly every region of New York State have been in Albany this week for their annual “Local Roads Matter” advocacy campaign.
Upstate Republicans say that the Local Roads Matter coalition is again calling on the state to strengthen its commitment to local transportation by increasing CHIPS base aid for the first time in seven years.
Among other studies, they point to an October 2017 report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimating that locally owned bridges alone need at least $27.4 billion in repairs. An earlier report from the comptroller called 32% of New York’s local bridges deficient and 40% of local roads fair or poor, and getting worse. Last September, a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research nonprofit, found that 10 percent of bridges across the state are in poor/structurally deficient condition – the 12th highest rate in America.
According to TRIP, nearly 12 million vehicles cross a poor/structurally deficient bridge in New York State every day.
In a March 2 letter to Cuomo and legislative leaders, O’Mara, Palmesano and their Senate and Assembly colleagues wrote, “We believe that New York State’s investment in local transportation infrastructure must be a foundation of the nation’s most aggressive infrastructure program in order for this program to achieve its envisioned goals…We once again stress that New York State’s direct investment in local roads and bridges through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) remains fundamental to the mission highlighted above. It deserves priority consideration in the final allocation of the record level of state investment the Executive proposes for the 2020-21 fiscal year. CHIPS is the key difference for local communities, economies, governments, motorists and taxpayers throughout the Empire State, including New York City and surrounding metro areas, and we should no longer ignore this fact. This session, perhaps more than ever before, we believe the opportunity exists to strengthen past successes and, most importantly, revitalize our investment to address the tremendous, still unmet needs and challenges facing the effective maintenance and improvement of local roads, bridges and culverts in every region of New York State.”
This year the group is calling for increasing state base aid for CHIPS by $150 million to a total of $588 million, noting that the CHIPS base level has remain unchanged at $438 million since 2013. The group also seeks the restoration of a $65-million “Extreme Winter Recovery” allocation that Cuomo eliminates as part of his 2020-21 proposed state budget and calls on the governor and legislative leaders to:
Ø Achieve the past practice of mutual five-year Capital Plans between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) with parity as a priority that benefits both upstate and downstate;
Ø Achieve upstate-downstate parity in the percentage funding increases proposed for the five-year MTA Capital Plan and a two-year DOT Capital Plan;
Ø doubling PAVE-NY local funding from $100 million to $200 million annually; and
Ø doubling BRIDGE-NY local funding from $100 million to $200 million annually, with additional funding for culverts.