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Collapsed Clarence road cited as example of needed federal funds

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Residents in the Town of Clarence have been dealing with problems on Tonawanda Creek Road for about a decade, as erosion has caused part of the road to collapse. During a stop there Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer warned that unless Congress acts, road funding will run out soon. Schumer says Erie County would qualify for $3 million in aid to repair Tonawanda Creek Road, east of Transit Road, if the Highway Trust Fund is replenished.  A section of the road has been closed since June of last year.

"If Congress doesn't act before July 31, there's going to be what would call a highway shutdown, which means that thousands will be thrown out of work, those who are working on existing highways" said Schumer, at an on-site press conference Monday morning. "It would mean delay of hundreds of infrastructure projects."

Schumer says the bill would not lead to an increase in the gas tax. He says the best hope of getting the bill passed is to tax the overseas profits of American companies, which he says has bipartisan support.

"The problem is, there's a group of people holding up the bill who say 'I don't think the federal government should...fund highways,' even though we've been doing it since 1820," Schumer said.

Erie County legislator Ed Rath III says Tonawanda Creek Road has seen four collapses in the last ten years.

"The residents of this area have endured closed roads, they've endured detours and they've endured long delays. Not only is it a hardship for the residents, it's also a hardship for businesses that are in and around these closed roads," Rath said.

Rath said federal funding is "the critical component" of such road investments.