Sen. James Seward (R-51) and other state legislators joined hundreds of town and county highway officials yesterday (March 4) for a “Local Roads Matter” rally in Albany.
Among that group were representatives from both Cortland and Tompkins Counties.
The primary message was simple: More local highway funding is needed in Governor Cuomo’s latest budget proposal for FY 2020-21, which currently dictates a 70% funding increase for a 5-year MTA plan and just a 33% increase over two years for the rest of the state.
Sen. Seward and other state legislators sent a letter to Cuomo calling for a solution that would include a doubling of both PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY funding – from $100M to $200M each.
It also maps out a $150M increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) base funding in the budget, which would bring total state aid to $588 million. The CHIPs base level has remained unchanged for the past seven years.
“Quality roads and bridges are indispensable when it comes to improving our economy and making sure the motoring public is safe,” said Senator Seward. “I represent all or part of nine counties and travel our local highways regularly. I know firsthand the hard work our county, town, and village highway crews perform, and recognize that road improvements are needed. While the downstate MTA is slated to receive the bulk of the highway funds in the governor’s proposed budget, we cannot overlook the needs of our upstate roads and bridges. As we negotiate the final state budget, it is imperative that there is parity when it comes to infrastructure needs.”
Also included in the proposal is a restoration of the $65 million “Extreme Winter Recovery” allocation, which currently sits on the copping block in the governor’s budget proposal.
Local roads and bridges account for 87 percent of the roads, 52 percent of the bridges, and 48 percent of the vehicle mileage logged in New York State.