State hikes funding for bridge, road repair

An increase in state funding may help local municipalities repair more roadways.

For the first time in half a decade, the state increased funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway – also known as CHIPS – program for Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties.

According to a news release, $75 million in budget increases, totalling $438 million, were distributed to the CHIPS funds spread out across all counties in the state.

The funding was increased by 21 percent across the board, according to a news release.

“This budget is about jobs, jobs, jobs, and by investing in rebuilding our state’s transportation infrastructure, we are helping to grow local economies and create jobs in all corners of the state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. “During these difficult fiscal times, this $75 million increase in CHIPS funding is a big victory for our state’s localities that will be able to use these much-needed funds to make repairs to local highways, bridges and roads, and at the same time support job growth and economic development in their communities. I commend the members of the Legislature that worked hard to ensure that these funds are included in our state budget.”

Fulton County Highway and Facilities Superintendent Mark Yost reported funds were split between the counties and municipalities in the town.

Fulton County in total received $2.8 million in CHIPS funds, an increase from 2012-13’s $2.28 million. According to the CHIPS funding breakdown, Fulton County itself went from $863,000 in 2012-13 to $1 million for 2013-14, with the remaining split between the towns and cities.

Yost said he was happy to see a funding increase, though it’s not clear exactly what projects the CHIPS fund would be used for. Yost predicted they may take a project scheduled for 2014 and begin this year. The decision would be made once the CHIPS fund is approved, he said.

Montgomery County’s total increased from 2012-13’s $3.1 million to 2013-14’s $3.8 million.

According to the funding breakdown, the county’s Department of Public Works would get $2.4 million, an increase of more than $400,000 from 2012-13’s amount.

Mohawk Supervisor and General Services Committee Chairman Greg Rajkowski said in discussions with Department of Public Works Superintendent Paul Clayburn, Clayburn talked about paving certain roads in three towns, but was not sure which ones.

This funding, Rajkowski said, would help pave more than was expected, but he could not say how much more.

Rajkowski said the department was thankful to face no cuts to the program in the last five years.

However, prices of materials increased as the funding levels remained the same.

“We sat there saying ‘at least we aren’t getting cut,'” Rajkowski said.

Hamilton County in total went from 2012-13’s $837,000 to 2013-14’s $1.03 million, with the county’s highway department getting $590,000 for 2013-14 compared to 2012-13’s $486,000.

According to Tracy Eldridge, county highway superintendent, paving and overlay are possible expenditures for the funding.

“I’m fairly certain it would be used for an overlay in some place,” Eldridge said. “…We have plenty of need.”

However, Eldridge said the final decision about how to use the money has not been made.

“Funding our state’s infrastructure is one of the most important investments we can make in our residents and their futures. Senate Republicans are pleased to have fought for and won a 21 percent increase in CHIPS funding, the first increase in five years. This critical funding will allow local governments to maintain and upgrade our roads and bridges so they can carry people, goods and services, and keep our economy moving forward,” Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said in a news release.

Arthur Cleveland is the Rural News reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]

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