State Must Increase Funding for Local Roads and Bridges
Maintaining our local roads and bridges is essential, and local highway departments count on the state to provide most of the funding necessary to keep local roads in good repair. This year, after several years of state funding stagnation and reductions, we need our state leaders to increase funding for local roadways. The reasons to do so are compelling.
Well-maintained local roads and bridges connect us to the places, products, services and people we all need. Whether it’s getting groceries, traveling to work and school, fire and police protection, or package delivery to our doors, nearly every facet of every day life relies on local roads.
Good local roads are also important to our pocketbooks. According to TRIP, a national non-profit transportation advocacy group, roads and bridges that are deficient, congested, or lack desirable safety features cost New York motorists an additional $24.9 billion annually — nearly $2,300 per driver in some areas — due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic accidents, and congestion-related delays.
The imperative to increase funding for local roads becomes even more clear when you consider that local governments are responsible for maintaining nearly 87 percent of all roads in New York State, and one-half of the state’s 18,000 bridges. Moreover, drivers on local roads contribute nearly half of the gas taxes collected in New York State, yet less than 12 percent of the taxes and fees paid to the state by these drivers go back to maintaining local roads. We need more of those dollars to flow to the local level.
Our local road infrastructure is in peril. Estimates by the State Comptroller, state Department of Transportation (DOT), and other independent studies have found that up to 36 percent of our bridges are deficient and 38 percent of our roads are rated fair or poor, and getting worse.
The New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways recently launched a broad public awareness campaign calling on state lawmakers to increase funding for local roads and bridges in the 2021-2022 state budget.
The campaign reminds New Yorkers of the essential nature of properly maintained local roads and bridges, and why it’s more important than ever to invest in our local highway infrastructure during the pandemic.
The campaign features a 45-second video reminding New Yorkers that safe, passable local roads and bridges cannot be taken for granted. You can see the video here:
You can help, too. Contact your state lawmakers and tell them that you rely on safe, passable local roads and bridges. Tell them you support increasing funding for local roads and bridges.
Alexander Gregor is President of the New York State Association Town Superintendents of Highways, and Highway Superintendent, Town of Southhampton.