New York’s local roads, highways and bridges are a vital part of our state’s economic health and quality of life. Unfortunately, the necessary investment and upkeep of these critical roadways have lagged for years. Proposed fiscal injections come up short of what is needed to address the many major issues plaguing local infrastructure.
To put the importance of local infrastructure investment in context, consider the fact that municipalities own and maintain 87 percent of New York’s roads and 52 percent of New York’s bridges. Families use these roads every day to do their grocery shopping, take children to school and get to work. Our emergency services also rely on them to ensure the safety of our communities.
With that in mind, it is troubling why New York has done such a poor job maintaining these roads. Recently, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported state spending on local road repair was down 7 percent in 2020 compared to 2010 when adjusted for inflation. These cuts come at a time when roads in places like Buffalo and Albany have been ranked among the worst in the nation with respect to their pothole maintenance.
Further, these deficiencies are not only unsafe and inconvenient—they are also expensive to everyday New Yorkers. Data from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit organization, and Rebuild NY indicates New York’s poor driving conditions cost each New Yorker more than $2,700 every year. Cumulatively, that amounts to $28 billion of taxpayer money spent mitigating these deficiencies annually.
Next week, our Conference will be calling for immediate increases in funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) alongside our colleagues in the Senate and principal stakeholders. There, we will urge Gov. Hochul to reevaluate local road funding and call on her to divert federal infrastructure aids toward this critical issue.
The Assembly Minority Conference has been calling for more funding to our local roads and infrastructure for years. After touring the state and gathering extensive feedback, we outlined our plan in a comprehensive report entitled NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE: A Report on Fortifying Our Roads, Bridges and Water Systems, which addresses the importance of properly maintaining our roads, bridges and water and sewer systems.
Like most problems, it is more cost efficient in the long-term and easier to address these issues immediately before they get out of hand. Investing in our local roadways now will save drivers millions later. As budget negotiations ramp up, I urge the governor and Majority Conference leadership to consider the value and importance of these investments. A commitment to a better infrastructure now will create a stronger and more prosperous New York in the future.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 19 Canalview Mall, Fulton, NY 13069 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.