A Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
One of the biggest legislative challenges in Albany is to make sure that there is parity in state spending between Upstate and Downstate New York.
This is particularly challenging when it comes to transportation spending.
Downstate New York relies on mass transit for its transportation needs, while in Upstate, we are much more reliant on our cars for our transportation needs.
Accordingly, the needs of each region tend to be very different.
Downstate, to a great degree, relies on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to maintain their bus, subway and train systems and Upstate relies on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to maintain our roads and bridges.
The 2016-17 budget contained considerable investments in infrastructure in Upstate after myself and other Upstate lawmakers continued to push for these investments.
Most notably, this year the Legislature and the Governor agreed to fund the creation of a five-year capital improvement program for the New York State Department of Transportation.
This plan commits $25.1 billion for DOT projects over a multi-year period.
Though the plan was created this year, the Legislature and the Governor must continue to agree to fund the plan in the upcoming years.
Our estimated 114,000 centerline miles of highway and more than 17,400 bridges need adequate funding so we can continue to protect and invest in our infrastructure.
Local governments are responsible for the maintenance of nearly 85% of the roads and about half of the bridges in the state.
Accordingly, they need assistance meeting the repair demands, especially considering our snowfalls.
Included in the capital plan this year is funding for a new program called PAVE-NY.
PAVE-NY sets aside $100 million for local governments each year for the next four years from the DOT capital plan.
PAVE-NY funds will be distributed according to the same formula used by the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS).
Similar to CHIPS, PAVE-NY allows localities to complete the work and then bill the state for eligible resurfacing or highway reconstruction projects.
There are different stipulations for PAVE-NY and CHIPS but one main difference is with CHIPS, localities are allowed to make repairs but also undertake new road construction according to guidelines.
With PAVE-NY, eligible projects are limited to highway resurfacing and reconstruction.
In the last several budgets, my colleagues and I have been successful in securing additional funding in the enacted budget for CHIPS and as a result, the state budget has included $438.1 million for CHIPS each year since the 2013-14 budget.
PAVE-NY is available now to local governments.
Earlier this summer, specific funding details for PAVE-NY were released by the Governor’s office and made available to localities.
Here is a breakdown of the combined funding for both CHIPS and PAVE-NY:
Oswego County and its municipalities are eligible to receive up to $8,206,226 in both CHIPS and PAVE-NY funding; Onondaga County and its municipalities are eligible to receive $14,302,843; and Jefferson County and its municipalities are eligible to receive $8,594,970.
Another program created this year is BRIDGE-NY.
This program includes $200 million over the next two years to help local governments rehabilitate and replace bridges and culverts.
Though the allocation was made in April when the budget passed, the program guidelines were announced in July and funds will be awarded through a competitive grant process.
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 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
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