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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Paving the way for better local roads"

ALBANY, April 17, 2017 -- Last week, I highlighted the historic investment that the new state budget makes in water quality infrastructure across New York.

This week, it's about local roads, bridges and culverts.

In March, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and I once again joined New York's local highway superintendents for the annual "Local Roads Matter" rally at the Capitol. It's become one Albany's most recognizable advocacy campaigns and we're proud to continue building it. This year's effort earned the support of a bipartisan coalition of 137 state legislators, or nearly 65 percent of the Legislature's entire membership.

Most importantly, it is making a difference. Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are hearing our message that "Local Roads Matter" (you can view a replay of this year's rally on my Senate website,

Beginning with the 2013-14 state budget, CHIPS base aid has increased by approximately $125 million to an overall level of $438.1 million. Last year's state budget also included an additional $400 million ($100 million a year over four years) for local roads being allocated using the CHIPS funding formula through a new PAVE-NY program for local roads, and another $400 million in BRIDGE-NY funding for local bridge projects. Additionally, for the first time since 2010, the budget provides parity in funding between the five-year state Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital plans, with each plan slated to receive approximately $27 billion.

Combined, these programs are providing significant funding increases for counties, cities, towns and villages throughout New York State. Regionally, total aid percentage increases from 2012-13 to this year have ranged from 45% to 55%.

Stronger support continues in the new state budget, which includes an additional $65 million for counties, towns and villages through the CHIPS formula. The budget also provides an additional $50 million for BRIDGE-NY, with $20 million of that amount dedicated to culvert improvement projects.

In short, in an era when the competition for government resources is as difficult as it has ever been, Assemblyman Palmesano and I remain proud to be joined by an ever-growing number of legislative colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, the local roads team, numerous other local leaders and statewide transportation advocates to keep building bipartisan support
within the Legislature for a more fair, equitable and stronger state commitment.

It goes without saying that the effort will be ongoing. Now more than ever, New York State must support a steady, strong, multi-year strategy to address local transportation infrastructure. Local governments face increasingly difficult fiscal constraints due to the tax cap and long-stagnant state aid to municipalities. CHIPS, PAVE-NY and BRIDGE-NY funding is fundamentally important to local economic development, job creation, motorist safety and property tax relief.

A 2013 report from the state comptroller called 32% of New York's local bridges deficient and 40% of local roads fair or poor, and getting worse. A national transportation advocacy group, TRIP, has estimated that deteriorating roads cost New York motorists roughly an additional $25 billion annually -- nearly $2,300 for the average driver in some areas -- in lost time, fuel costs, vehicle repairs and other expenses.

The New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) has said, "At a time when high quality public infrastructure is universally recognized as the key to strong communities and a growing economy, New York State must further increase its investment in our essential network of local roads and bridges."

According to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), "The ongoing and necessary maintenance of the local road and bridge system in New York is essential for the safety of the motoring public. The costs of maintenance and repair of this vast local system is beyond the capacity of local taxpayers, and ongoing state investment is needed."

In addition, the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) notes, "At a time when high quality public infrastructure is universally recognized as the key to strong communities and a growing economy, New York State must further increase its investment in our essential network of local roads and bridges."

Yes, Local Roads Matter.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blowers, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869