Friend: Governor, Don’t Shortchange Local Roads and Bridges

Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C-Big Flats), his legislative colleagues and local highway superintends today called for an increase in local road and bridge aid. They are fighting for a $200 million increase to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) for a total of $738 million and an additional $70 million for the Extreme Winter Recovery fund (EWR) for a total of $170 million. The two programs are essential for local municipalities to replace and repair roadway infrastructure. Gov. Hochul in her budget proposal keeps the funding flat, which Friend argues is a cut to funding, considering the steep rise in costs for construction.

“Much like Gov. Cuomo, Gov. Hochul gives much attention to the needs of the MTA and downstate transportation while neglecting upstate New York. Our highway superintendents and their laborers work very hard to maintain what we have; however, if the funding is not there, it hardly makes a dent in the repair and replacement of our local roads and bridges,” said Friend. “We are asking the governor and the state to make a meaningful investment in upstate infrastructure because it is essential for communities to thrive.”

Friend noted that construction costs recently rose by 22 percent. Specifically, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) outlines in its “Fuel, Asphalt and Steel Price Adjustments” that between July 2020 and July 2022, fuel prices increased by 260 percent, asphalt by 80 percent and steel by 115 percent. Friend says that no increase in local road and bridge aid in light of this information is essentially a cut in funding, one that local governments cannot afford.

Comptroller DiNapoli also has rung the alarm bell on deficiencies in the state’s infrastructure. Over the next 20 years, he says New York will see roughly $89 billion in unmet local infrastructure needs and he further reported that locally-owned bridges currently need about $27.4 billion. The New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways says local roads outside of New York City have an annual funding gap of more than $2 billion.

Friend noted that every dollar spent on local roads prevents $6 to $14 in long-term rehabilitation spending. A sound system of roads and bridges is essential to the health and safety of everyone and everything using our roads.