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Lawmakers concerned with state transportation pavement reports

Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 18:10:40-04

“The fact that they dragged their feet on releasing this report is unacceptable,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tim Kennedy.

Kennedy's referring to two reports from the New York State Department of Transportation (N.Y.S.D.O.T.) released just this week with data from 2018 and 2019.

The reports show state roadways are deteriorating faster than any other time in the past three decades due to a lack of funding.

“The deterioration that’s happened on our infrastructure calls for a generational amount of funding to be infused,” Kennedy said.

The N.Y.S.D.O.T. didn’t respond to our inquiries.

Mike Elmendorf is the President of Rebuild New York Now, a coalition seeking to raise public awareness about the issues impacting the state’s infrastructure. He said the state often makes surface level repairs when the problem goes deeper.

“The wrong treatment is being done because the resources are inadequate,” Elmendorf explained.

He said the report proves two things: the N.Y.S.D.O.T. needs to be more transparent and timely when releasing data and we should also be investing more in our roadways.

He said there’s some optimism over president Joe Biden’s proposed “American Jobs Plan.” It includes $621 billion in transportation infrastructure investment. $115 billion would be devoted to bridges and roads most in need of repair.

According to Congressman Brian Higgins, western New York’s piece of that pie hasn’t yet been finalized.

REPORTER ALI TOUHEY: What does this mean for western New York specifically, and what dollars and cents will we receive?

REP. HIGGINS: It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it. It’s a lot of money but there’s a big agenda and we have to work together as a community to get the best use from this investment.

Higgins said he’d like to prioritize elevated expressways including the Kensington Expressway, the Scajaquada, and the Skyway. Senator Kennedy also says those will be a priority if the plan is approved. but money will also be used to address the road repair concerns found in the state’s reports.

“This may be a once in a generation opportunity to really deal with our infrastructure needs,” said Elmendorf.