ALBANY – Last week Senator Sue Serino joined a large crowd of town highway superintendents and workers from across the state at a rally at the Capitol urging the legislature to increase funding for local transportation programs, like the Consolidated Local Street Highway Improvement Program, also known as CHIPS.
Hyde Park Highway Superintendent Howard Fisher is responsible for maintaining 96 miles of town roads. “With funding at its current levels, my department can afford to pave almost 1.5 miles of blacktop per year. There is absolutely no way to keep the roads safe without an increase in funds,” said Fisher.
“Our local roads makeup 87% of all roads throughout the state and play an essential role in our community,” said Senator Sue Serino. “With roads and bridges deteriorating rapidly, the legislature has a responsibility to make sure funding these programs is a top priority.”
Town of Poughkeepsie’s Highway Superintendent Marc Pfeifer echoed Fisher’s comments, saying “While the costs of materials have steadily increased, funding has not. Without additional money, there is no way to keep up with vital road repairs.”
Senator Serino has made securing essential funding for local transportation systems one of her top priorities since taking office. At the recent press conference, lawmakers and rally attendees urged the state to increase CHIPS funding by $150 million to bring the total allocation to $588 million. They are also pushing for a restoration of the $65 million for Extreme Winter Recovery funding, and to increase BRIDGE-NY and PAVE-NY funding.
“Without our roads, nothing in our community works,” said Rich Othmer, Town of Kent Highway Superintendent. “Maintaining our roads and bridges should always be a top priority and I thank Senator Serino for fighting for this important issue.”
The CHIPS funding is important as it is allocated to local communities equitably, with each community awarded the same amount of funding per mile of road they are charged with maintaining. Under the current Executive Budget proposal, there is no increase in funding for local transportation infrastructure programs. The proposed budget would also eliminate the Extreme Winter Recovery program, funding allocated specifically to localities to help them rebuild roads and bridges that were particularly impacted by harsh winter weather conditions. Lawmakers and rally participants also advocated for the establishment of a program that would be called ‘City Routes,’ which would assist municipalities in covering costs associated with maintaining sewer, water, and utility work for state touring routes.
“Hundreds came together to rally in the Capitol in support of these initiatives, and their message was clear—local roads matter,” Serino continued. “I will continue to fight for the funding our communities need so that we have a transportation system we can depend on.”