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New state budget deal paves way for $350M more for roads and bridges

Erie County Department of Public Works

The new state budget puts a lot more money into repairing New York’s tattered roads and bridges and creates a new program to repair city streets and fill potholes.

For politicians, highway money is a big deal because that’s how most people get around, driving their motor vehicles on roads. The new budget adds $350 million to what was spent last year and much of it can be spent immediately.

The money is in all kinds of categories, like $100 million increase for Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS) repairs, $100 million in new Extreme Winter Recovery (EWR) funds and a $50 million increase for Pave-NY.

State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kennedy said a new program is the $100 million bridge and highway program for localities called City Touring Roads.

"City Touring Roads is going to allow for funding specifically designed to help with our aging infrastructure in our cities, like Buffalo and other Upstate cities, that really get hit hard with that inclement weather, year in and year out," Kennedy said. "This is a new program. It’s never been done before. It’s just the beginning of millions and millions of dollars flowing to our community."

Kennedy said more money for roads and bridges was a priority for the Democratic majority in the state Senate and that motorists will see the results during the summer road construction season.

"Main streets and commercial districts and residential streets, the areas of our community that really need that infusion of dollars for infrastructure and road projects that we have been missing for years, especially in our city centers, that we want to capture that momentum and continue to move forward and develop jobs in our economy and opportunities for the future," he said.

These allocations this year become the base when this same fight over roads and bridges money takes place a year from now when the next budget process continues. Kennedy said funds are needed for cities to grow.

"A burgeoning downtown. Burgeoning commercial districts in communities and neighborhoods throughout the City of Buffalo that need an infusion of cash into their roads in order to support the new businesses that are taking root. In order to support the new development that is taking root," he said. "The thing that has been missing in the past has been those dollars. They are no longer missing."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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