Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 1, 2012

County officials call for state road, bridge aid

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A consortium of elected and appointed county officials have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to boost funding for programs that are used to reimburse local governments for road work.

The New York State Association of Counties said the funds are used to cover part of the cost for maintaining, rehabilitating and reconstructing local roads and bridges.

The resolution, passed at the group's annual fall conference, is a response to a five-year funding freeze for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program and the Marchiselli state-federal matching funds. These are the primary funding sources for the majority of local transportation projects.

CHIPS funding has been stuck at $363 million and Marchiselli at $39 million since the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The resolution was promoted by the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association, an affiliate of counties association. The highway superintendents were gratified for the support, pointing to "decades" of neglect caused by funding shortages.

"We appreciate the actions taken by NYSAC that seek to highlight the broad challenges county highway departments face in fixing and preserving their vast local systems of roads and bridges," said David Hartman, president of the highway superintendents association and Yates County Superintendent of Highways.

According to county officials, local roads and bridges account for 87 percent of the roads, 51 percent of the bridges and 48 percent of the vehicle mileage logged in New York state.

They said that with the cost of fuel, materials, labor and equipment spiking over the past several years, funding levels have not kept up with the demands of an ailing local transportation system.

Hartman said he is encouraged when leading local government groups like the county officials join in voicing their support for more State investment in local transportation infrastructure.

"Having a modern system of roads and bridges in New York state must be a priority for elected state leaders," said Stephen Acquario, NYSAC executive director. "Increasing investment in our transportation infrastructure will ensure the continued safety of the motoring public and position New York to be a competitive state for economic development and job creation."

NYSAC adopted three resolutions that call for increasing state funds for CHIPS and Marchiselli, establishing a state aid to local bridge and culvert program and reforming the state's Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund to insure adequate levels of State aid to transportation in the future.