Upstate roads and bridges are in are in need of work — and the money to pay for it, highway crews and local state legislators say.
HOPEWELL — Ontario County has more than 1,200 culverts, which carry water from a stream or open drain underneath a road.
Over 46 percent of them require major work, said Bill Wright, commissioner of public works for the county. And it can be costly — a culvert replacement project this year on County Road 16 in the town of Canandaigua cost in the neighborhood of $1 million.
And that’s one reason why Wright and members of the state Assembly Republican Conference gathered at the county highway garage Thursday to push — as part of a “Local Roads Matter” campaign — for what they say is their fair share of infrastructure funding.
Over the past several years, there has been a shift in transportation funding emphasis from local to bigger, higher-profile road projects, Wright said.
“We have to get back to where where we are funding our local roads in the amounts that are necessary,” Wright said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged $8 billion in state funds to help close the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s five-year spending gap, according to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, which is necessary.
But many local highway departments are seeking parity.
As president of the New York State Association of Counties, Brooks testified a week ago at an Assembly hearing on transportation.
Upstate counties are seeking a fully-funded, five-year capital program designed to rebuild infrastructure.
Counties, towns, villages and cities own and maintain 87 percent of the state’s 110,000 roadways and 50 percent of the state’s 18,000 bridges, Brooks said.
One out of every five bridges in this region is over 65 years old, Brooks said.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has reported that the state will need $89 billion over the next 20 years to address infrastructure needs.
New Yorkers pay among the highest gas and auto taxes and fees in the nation, generating nearly $5 billion annually; but less than half of that revenue goes to maintaining infrastructure, Brooks said.
“Keeping this vast system of transportation safe and sound will put people to work and help attract people and businesses to our communities,” Brooks said. “Clearly, we are not keeping up with the needs of the system.”
Assemblyman Bob Oaks, R-Macedon, said the state budget is being prepared now, with a presentation planned Jan. 13, 2016.
“We need to see that as part of the budget to bring parity to upstate,” Oaks said.
Along with that, a local government “set aside” also is necessary to ensure local projects are funded, Wright said.
“With the right funding, all of our roads can be brought back to standard,” Wright said.