Repairs to New York’s roads and bridges can’t wait
As lawmakers continue to work on the state budget, there’s one issue they’re certainly grappling with: New York’s crumbling infrastructure. Whether it’s a massive pothole, a cracked road or uneven pavement, roads and bridges in the Capital District and across the state are in desperate need of repair. Don’t just take our word for it: federal agencies have ranked New York’s road and bridge conditions as some of the worst in the nation.
In the Capital Region, there are approximately 2,000 miles of roads and nearly 500 bridges in need of repair. Something must be done to meet this urgent need, which affects the safety of drivers and their wallets.
A January 2022 study shows that drivers in the Albany area must pay an average of $1,750 just to cover the additional costs of operating vehicles due to rough roads, wasted fuel and congestion. To make matters worse, record high inflation has caused costs for highway construction materials to skyrocket and brought the spending power of the DOT Capital Program to its lowest levels since 2015. This is a recipe for disaster — and higher costs — for every New Yorker.
Local governments are responsible for maintaining nearly 86 percent of the state’s 112,500 miles of highway system and half of the state’s 18,000 bridges. Local state highway programs provide a critical portion of our local transportation budgets.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget included $1.2 billion in funding for local highways. Thankfully, both House budgets increased spending on local roads and bridges. But since the April 1 budget deadline has passed, these critical road and bridge projects are at risk: They require planning and development ahead of any actual physical work, putting additional time pressure on the government.
We demand that the state budget or continuing resolution—whichever comes first—provide the necessary resources to ensure that these vital road and bridge projects, which employ thousands of New Yorkers, are allowed to move forward.
Investing in local infrastructure boosts New York’s economic health. An estimated 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York, in everything from tourism to agriculture, depend on the state’s transportation network, including reliable roads and bridges. That’s why we’re calling on the governor and state lawmakers to do the right thing and sign off on funding a plan that will pave the way for a better New York.
Michael Graham is the highway supervisor for the town of Kingsbury. Mike Elmendorf is the president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State and the president of Rebuild NY Now.