Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) was pleased to join his colleagues from the Assembly and the Senate, alongside county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders from across the state for a “Local Road Matter” rally on Wednesday, March 6. Together, they pushed for a $150 million increase in funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and a restoration of $65 million for the “Extreme Winter Recovery” allocation, which was enacted last year but has not been included in Gov. Cuomo’s proposed 2019-20 state budget so far. The rally was organized by state Sen. Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning).
“Local roads and bridges are used every day by almost every person in New York,” said Byrne. “This is why we must keep them in the best condition possible. Whether someone is going to work, school, a friend’s house or the grocery store, everyone deserves the peace of mind knowing that their life, and their vehicle, is not at risk due to crumbling infrastructure. It is also crucial, especially for the Hudson Valley population, that we restore funding to the Extreme Winter Recovery allocation as roads in our area can become severely damaged by the frigid temperatures and plows. I will continue to fight for this funding to be included in the upcoming budget, because our local roads matter!”
Representing nearly every region in New York, Albany was filled this week with over 600 representatives from local highway superintendents to highway department employees and other New Yorkers who remain passionate about keeping New York’s roads, bridges and culverts in good condition. This is all part of the annual “Local Roads Matter” advocacy campaign, which has been in effect since 2013, to call for better funding to support New York’s roads, bridges and culverts. Since the campaign started, it has helped to increase the amount of funding to CHIPS by about $240 million. The PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY programs, which were established three years ago, have also helped to provide a substantial amount of increases of funding for villages, towns, cities and counties statewide.
“Funding for CHIPS is critical now more than ever as we see Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to make counties responsible for AIM funding instead of the state, along with more unfunded state mandates,” said Byrne. “Municipalities own and maintain 87 percent of New York’s roads and 52 percent of the 18,000 bridges in New York. Almost half of all vehicle miles driven in New York are on local roads. That is a lot of wear and tear that needs the proper funding to be fixed so everyone can continue to get to where they need to be in a safe manner.”
In a March 4th letter to Gov. Cuomo and other legislative leaders, Byrne, O’Mara, Palmesano and their colleagues from the Assembly and Senate argued their case for increased funding saying how local governments, which are already struggling, will continue to do so with the added burdens the state has proposed this year. This letter can be found here.
In the fall of 2018, the Assembly Minority Conference hosted a series of eight regional forums which covered an assortment of topics concerning New York’s transportation and infrastructure needs. Byrne and Palmesano are co-chairmen of the Assembly Minority Task Force on Critical Infrastructure and Transportation which took charge of the forums. In January 2019, a compilation of the findings from the forums was released called NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE: A Report on Fortifying Our Roads, Bridges and Water Systems which can be found here.
“Our legislative supporters, particularly Senator Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, are to be commended for their efforts on behalf of the people of this state,” said Dennis S. Davis, President of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association (NYSCHSA). “The hard reality is that local highway departments need a significant boost in the level of state investment to effectively address the daunting financial challenges of maintaining their vast ailing and aging transportation infrastructure. We all agree that a substantial increase in the CHIPS base aid and the restoration of the Extreme Winter Recovery funds, as advocated for by our legislative partners and the over 600 attendees of our Local Roads Matter! event, is the best way to help all municipalities improve the conditions of our critical statewide system of roads, bridges and culverts on behalf of the motoring public.”
“On behalf of our members, the Association would like to thank Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano and all of the legislators who have worked so hard to increase local infrastructure funding,” said Patrick Mahar, Town of Denmark Highway Superintendent and current President of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways (NYSAOTSOH). “Fixing local roads and bridges is similar to repairing the roof or replacing windows on your home. You don’t do it because you want to, you do it because you have to. Businesses need to receive goods, children need to get to school and emergency vehicles need to be able to provide assistance – practically every facet of our daily lives utilizes our local infrastructure system. We appreciate all our state legislators whose bipartisan efforts will hopefully increase CHIPS and restore the vital Extreme Winter Recovery funding to the level our local communities and mutual constituents need.”
“As this winter has shown, our vast system of local roads and bridges require additional funding to handle the impact of harsh weather, from preventing and repairing damage to protecting our residents from dangerous ice and snow conditions,” said Stephen Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). “We thank the tireless work of our county highway superintendents and call on our state lawmakers to increase base CHIPS funding, including an appropriation for harsh winter conditions experienced across the state already this year. The safety of New York’s drivers depends on adequate funding to maintain, repair, and protect our local roads.”
“The time to address road and bridge funding is now. Supplemental recovery funds are welcome but not enough,” said Gerald K. Geist, Executive Director of the Association of Towns of the State of New York (AOT). “Recovery is not enough; we need to improve New York’s transportation infrastructure. We’re calling for an increase in the base CHIP allocations and a fully funded 5-year capital plan. Local governments need to know they can count on the State.”
“Every segment of New York’s economy – upstate and downstate – relies on our comprehensive network of local roads and bridges,” said Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM). “A state that cares about its economy will provide a strong and growing state investment in municipal roads and bridges. NYCOM therefore urges the Governor and the entire Legislature to come together and provide an overdue increase in CHIPS funding and fully restore the ‘Extreme Winter Recovery’ program.”
“Local roads matter to farmers,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau Public Policy Director. “The state’s family farms depend on safe roads and bridges to get goods to market. Infrastructure remains a priority for New York Farm Bureau and we encourage an increased investment to boost the rural economy.”
“Despite some recent progress, the level of investment in our infrastructure remains inadequate to meet our growing needs,” said Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State. “As a result, our roads are crumbling and our bridges are deteriorating. If you placed all 12,000 miles of roads in our state that are in need of repair end to end from New York to Miami, you would have enough potholed pavement for almost five round trips. These are roads and bridges that our communities and economy depend on. I commend Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano and their colleagues for their continued leadership on this critical issue and I am proud to stand with them in the fight for increased investment in our roads and bridges.”
“Once again, we are entering pothole season in New York, and CHIPS funding is crucial to improving the quality of our local roads and save drivers from unnecessary repairs to damaged cars,” said Gib Gagnon, Chairman of Rebuild NY Now. “‘Resurfaced’ roads in New York are a poor attempt to fix roads that need to be rebuilt and the potholes you dodge every day are the proof. Rebuild NY Now will continue advocating for infrastructure investments in New York, and thank you to Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano for leading the charge in demanding action for our critical infrastructure needs.”