Maher Says Investment in Local Roads Must Be Prioritized

Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden) joined his legislative colleagues and highway superintendents at a “Local Roads is Essential” rally to call on the governor to increase investment in the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) by $200 million for total funding of $738 million and the Extreme Winter Recovery Program (EWR) by $70 million for a total of $738 million. Gov. Hochul proposed in her budget that these programs remain flat, despite considerable cost pressures created by inflation.

“Our local roads are essential to healthy and thriving communities in New York state. We proposed important investment increases to CHIPS and EWR which help local governments maintain the roadways and bridges that keep New Yorkers moving,” said Maher. “When you factor in inflation, Gov. Hochul’s flat funding proposal is essentially a cut in funding. We’re just asking for fair funding for upstate’s needs, especially for our roads and bridges.”

“We thank Assemblyman Brian Maher for his strong advocacy and appreciate his knowledge on this issue as a former Town Supervisor and Village Mayor. We aren't asking for more than we need, we are simply asking to have the resources to do the same amount of road work our communities need us to complete due to inflation," said Wayne Kirkpatrick, Town of Blooming Grove Highway Superintendent.

Maher is concerned by the governor’s failure to increase funding amid inflation that will make it difficult for local governments to maintain local roads and bridges. Inflation has impacted the construction trade significantly. Construction saw a 22 percent inflation rate. The New York state Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “Fuel, Asphalt, & Steel Price Adjustments” note that between July 2020 and July 2022, costs rose by 260 percent for fuel, 80 percent for asphalt and 115 percent for steel.The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) increased funding to New York by 52 percent; unfortunately, this program would not benefit a large majority of local roads.

Numerous troubling reports on the state’s infrastructure health have been issued. Additionally, Comptroller DiNapoli has indicated that over the next 20 years there will be roughly $89 billion in unmet local infrastructure needs and in 2017 he reported that local bridges require an estimated $27.4 billion in repairs. Local governments are responsible for nearly 87 percent of the roadways and half of the 18,000 bridges throughout the state.

Maher, a former mayor and town supervisor, notes that CHIPS funding is essential for local governments to be able to maintain roads and other infrastructure without overburdening homeowners with property taxes. For every dollar spent on CHIPS, about $6 to $14 is saved in long-term rehabilitation costs. Further, according to TRIP, a national transportation group, New York’s poor infrastructure is costing motorists $28 billion annually, or about $3,2000 per driver in higher vehicle operating costs, traffic accidents and congestion.

Editor’s Note:Video of Maher’s comments on funding for local roads and bridges is available for download: