Push underway to kick high voltage road and bridge repairs into high gear

A high percentage of roads and bridges in the Hudson Valley are in poor or poor condition according to a new report from TRIP, a Washington DC nonprofit that researches highway and road issues. public transport.

Drivers in the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown area pay an average of $1,839 each in higher vehicle operating costs due to wear and damage caused by poor surface conditions, accident costs and costs of delays due to congestion, according to TRIP.

A January 2022 report by TRIP found that nearly half of New York State’s major highways that are maintained locally or by the state itself are in poor or poor condition.

Road repaving. New York State Department of Transportation photo.

The TRIP report found that 18% of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown urban area are in poor condition, and an additional 38% are in poor condition. These Hudson Valley numbers differ somewhat from statewide data showing that 26% of the state’s major roads are in poor condition and 19% are in poor condition.

In the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown urban area, 15% of bridges are rated as poor or structurally deficient, while 10% of highway bridges statewide fall into these categories. A low or structurally deficient rating means that there has been significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Council of Westchester, speaking at a press conference hosted by TRIP, said: “As we seek to encourage businesses to come to Westchester County and the Hudson Valley, as we seek to retain businesses and help grow in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley, we must be able to show them that… the bridges, tunnels and overpasses of the county are being improved, are safe, and that we don’t have reliability issues that really put people’s lives at risk.

Ravitz said that when he was a member of the state assembly, there was knowledge that road and bridge repairs needed to be done, but wondered if the funding was available to do what was needed.

“We know the funding is there now,” Ravitz said, referring to federal infrastructure funds. “We need to use this funding strategically to make improvements to our transport infrastructure so that we can send this clear message to the business community in Westchester and across the country so that if you come here to open a store, you will have safe roads, safe bridges, safe underpasses for your employees and also for your customers.

John Cooney Jr., executive director of the Westchester and Hudson Valley Construction Industry Council, said, “For the year ended 2020 in the Hudson Valley, 58.5% of roads were rated as poor and in good condition, the highest percentage in the state. Additionally, 45.9 percent of the area’s bridges were rated in poor and good condition, also the highest in the state.

Cooney said investing in roads and bridges represents an investment in the state’s overall economy.

“More than a trillion dollars worth of goods are shipped to locations in New York City,” Cooney noted. “Additionally, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association reports that there are 319,000 full-time jobs involved in the design, construction and maintenance of New York’s transportation infrastructure.”

TRIP reported that New York’s transportation construction contributes about $1.8 billion in state and local revenues, corporate taxes, and federal unemployment insurance and payroll taxes each year. He pointed out that approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York in key industries such as tourism, retail, agriculture and manufacturing depend on quality, safety and reliability of the state transport infrastructure network. TRIP cited statistics showing that workers in these industries earn $145 billion in wages and contribute an estimated $26.4 billion in state and local revenues, corporate taxes, and federal unemployment insurance and payroll taxes.

Cooney expressed optimism that Governor Kathy Hochul and other state officials will push to ensure that infrastructure funds provided by the federal government are actually spent to make necessary repairs and improvements. in the Hudson Valley and throughout the state.

“These latest findings from TRIP highlight the continued need to tackle the myriad roads and bridges, which waste time and money for businesses and employees,” said Melvin Norris, senior director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State, Inc. “These careful studies can be used as a roadmap to finally address and resolve these issues. We hope that the federal infrastructure program will help solve this persistent problem.

TRIP reported that annual spending on roads, highways and bridges by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) increased 37% from 2018 to 2021, from approximately $4.3 billion. at $6 billion.

“NYSDOT’s level of highway investment is likely to increase further following the five-year Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in November 2021, which will increase funding by 52% annual federal for roads, highways and bridges in New York. from an average of about $1.8 billion in federal money per year to $2.7 billion,” TRIP reported.

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