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The Dansville Online
  • O'Mara, Palmesano calling for an extra $50M for local roads, bridges

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  • ALBANY | A group of state legislators, including Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, are pushing for another increase to road and bridge funding in this year’s state budget.
    Nearly 90 members of the Legislature held an event at the Capitol in Albany Wednesday to draw attention to their concerns about the state’s aging infrastructure.
    They were joined by leaders from the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association, Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, Association of Counties, Conference of Mayors and Association of Towns.
    They’re looking for a $50 million boost in funding for the state’s Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), which would bring the total to $488 million.
    That’s on top of a $75 million increase last year, the first time the program had gotten increased funding in five years.
    Last year’s increase upped funding for Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Tompkins and Yates counties by an average of 24 percent.
    The legislators are also seeking the creation of a $200 million dedicated fund to help pay for locally designated bridge and culvert projects.
    “We’re seeing report after report deliver the message that the condition of local roads and bridges is critical, and getting worse,” O’Mara, R-Big Flats, and Palmesano, R-Corning, said in a joint statement. “We need a stronger state commitment to our local transportation infrastructure.”
    That was echoed by Martin Roberts, president of the state Association of Town Superintendents of Highways and Highway Superintendent for the Town of Reading in Schuyler County.
    “Real reforms must be implemented to increase funding for New York’s infrastructure before it is too late,” Roberts said. “Our Association appreciates the recognition from the Legislature that the conditions of our local roads and bridges are still declining despite our best efforts.”
    O’Mara and Palmesano noted that despite thousands of miles of interstate highway in New York, most roads in the state are local roads.
    They said 87 percent of roads and 52 percent of bridges in the state are locally constructed and maintained.
    After last year’s funding increase, Steuben County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti said the extra $741,000 his department received would allow them to to reconstruct and pave an extra five miles of road in 2013.
    The Legislature is in the process of debating budget proposals over the next few weeks, with the goal of passing a 2014-15 budget by April 1.
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