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Shimsky Lobbies for More State Funding for Roadways

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February 28, 2024

By Rick Pezzullo—

State Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky was part of a coalition of construction trade unions and state lawmakers that gathered in Elmsford last week to demand more funding be allocated in the New York State budget to repair and maintain roadways in the Hudson Valley.

Shimsky, who represents the Town of Mount Pleasant and most of the Town of Greenburgh, made a forceful plea at the Teamsters Local 456 Union Hall in Elmsford that Region 8, which includes 13 cities, 75 villages and 107 towns in Westchester, Putnam and five other counties, was being underfunded by at least $650 million in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2025 Executive Budget.

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She stressed $400 million that was needed to repair core roads and bridges and an additional $250 million local highway departments needed to keep up with inflation were a drop in the bucket in Hochul’s $233  billion spending plan.

“This is a long-term investment so our infrastructure gets closer to what it needs to be,” Shimsky said. “We all know the roads are the veins of our society. Roads are for everybody. This is a safety issue, even for people who do not drive. Our roads are terrible. New York State ranks 46th out of the 50 states in road conditions. That is absolutely awful.”

In her Executive Budget that was released in mid-January, Hochul touted investments to continue road, bridge and safety improvements across New York, including $7.6 billion for the Department of Transportation Capital Plan, $577.8 million for CHIPS and $100 million for the Pave Our Potholes (POP) Program.

However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle maintained that wasn’t enough to deal with the problems in Region 8, which has had the worst road and bridge conditions in the state for more than 10 years, costing drivers $8.7 billion last year in repairs, fuel and wear and tear.

“The number one call I get in my office is the poor quality of the roads in our district,” said Senator Pete Harckham. “We’re not blaming DOT. They need more funding. This is a critical issue. It’s common sense.”

According to a chart produced by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, in 2002 78% of Region 8 roads were ranked in good to excellent condition. By 2021, that number plunged to 44%. Meanwhile, during that same time period, roads in fair to poor condition rose from 22% to 56%.

“The reality is it’s time for the rubber to meet the road,” said Edward Cooke, Vice President of the Westchester and Putnam Counties Building Construction Trades Council. “This isn’t against the Department of Transportation. They deserve better.”

“This crisis must be addressed immediately, and it is not a political issue,” said John Cooney, Executive Director of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley. “The disgraceful conditions affect anyone who drives our state roads. Enough is enough.”

The deadline for the adoption of the state budget is April 1.

 

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