Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Road and bridge funding sought by engineers and government leaders

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 1:13 PM

New York's infrastructure is crummy and getting worse, as anyone who drives on the state's roads probably already realizes.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the state's infrastructure a C- in a report card it released this morning (the report is attached at the bottom of this post). But the grade is boosted by B- grades on parks and solid waste infrastructure. The state's roads get a D- and its bridges a D+. In Rochester, the roads are in such rough enough shape that they cost drivers an average $402 in repairs annually, according to the ASCE report. In Buffalo, the roads suck a little less, apparently, since they cost drivers there an average of $293 annually. 

The ASCE looked at other areas, too. Drinking water infrastructure receives a C, for example, and the state's waste water systems get a D.

During a press conference this morning, local ASCE leaders joined Rochester-area elected and business officials to call for more state and federal investment in infrastructure projects, particularly road and bridge repairs. Local, state, and federal governments should make modernizing New York's infrastructure a top priority, said Marco Scofidio, president of ASCE's Buffalo Section. And new projects should be designed so that they are durable and better able to stand up to changing environments, he said. 

Sam Anthony, president of the Rochester section of ASCE, said that government leaders should plan for future repairs before there's a crisis, such as a bridge closure or water main break.

"Catch-up work will be more costly," he said.

Several officials lined up to decry a lack of state and federal investment in infrastructure, including Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, State Senate transportation committee chair Joe Robach, Gates Supervisor Mark Assini, and Rochester Business Alliance President and CEO Bob Duffy. 

Robach said that the Northeast has some of the oldest roads and bridges in the country. The federal government needs to direct more transportation funding to the Northeast, he said, so it can modernize and rebuild the structures. The federal government funds road and bridge repairs through a tax on gas, but gasoline consumption has been declining. The feds need to develop a new formula for raising infrastructure funding, he said.

Warren said that the city could also use more infrastructure resources. This past winter was hard on the city, she said, particularly its aging water mains.

"This year will probably be as tough," Warren said.

And Gates Supervisor Mark Assini went through a list of problems in his town, including highly-publicized bridge closures on Trolley Boulevard and Chili Avenue. One of Assini's biggest concerns is the 390-490 interchange, which is traveled by 200,000 vehicles a day, many of which are trucks and other commercial traffic headed to Rochester Tech Park in Gates or Eastman Business Park in the city and Greece.

The interchange can't handle all of that traffic, he said, and daytime bottlenecks are frequent. He warned that the tangle of expressway could turn off companies looking at sites in either business park.

NY ReportCard FullReport 9.29.15 FINAL

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