Keep New York Moving Forward by Investing in Local Roads and Bridges
As our leaders in Albany craft this year’s budget, it’s important that the final agreement keeps New York moving forward – literally. The New York State County Highway Superintendents Association is calling on our leaders in Albany to deliver fair funding for local roads, bridges and culverts.
Since the start of the pandemic, elected officials in every community of the state have emphasized the importance of keeping New Yorkers safe. We agree with their calls which is why we’re advocating for fair funding for transportation infrastructure. Every day, millions of residents – nurses, teachers, first responders, and families – drive in cars or buses to get to their destinations. In total, there are more than 12 million licensed drivers and 11 million registered vehicles in New York according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Unfortunately, many New Yorkers are at risk due to the unsafe condition of aging roads and bridges. According to a 2020 report from TRIP, a private nonprofit organization that researches transportation issues, 25 percent of New York’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and another 22 percent are in mediocre condition. Additionally, 10 percent of locally and state-maintained bridges were rated structurally deficient. That’s simply unsafe and unacceptable.
Our elected leaders can help keep New York’s motorists safe by investing in our transportation infrastructure through existing state programs. With billions in new federal aid on the way, we’re calling for a $588 million investment in the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), $100 million for the Extreme Winter Recovery Program, $200 million each for PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY, as well as the restoration of $120.6 million which was cut from municipalities’ transportation funding last year.
Improving our aging roads and bridges isn’t just a safe investment – it’s a smart one. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 1.6 million New Yorkers are unemployed. Investing in transportation infrastructure will help get people back to work. Each $150 million increase in funding for local roads, bridges and culverts creates up to 4,200 highway construction-related jobs. The 2020 TRIP report also found that New York’s deficient roads cost drivers $7 billion in additional vehicle operating costs each year. With fair funding for local roads and bridges, drivers across the state could save up to $573 on average. Creating jobs and saving motorists money is a win-win scenario.
Unlike many of the issues that dominate debates in Albany, fair funding for transportation infrastructure is not a partisan issue. People of every political stripe rely on local roads and bridges every day. Investing in local roads bridges is essential to keeping motorists safe and getting our economy back on track. We look forward to working with our leaders in Albany to secure this investment and keep New York moving forward.
Joe Wisinski is President of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association.