Local Highway Officials Join Senator Ortt to Call for Restored CHIPS Funding

Niagara County Commissioner of Public Works Garret Meal and Orleans County Commissioner of Public Works John Papponetti joined State Senator Rob Ortt and  and several town highway superintendents from both counties at a press conference to push back against Governor Hochul’s proposed budget cuts to the CHIPS program.  The CHIPS program is an important source of funding for road maintenance and improvement projects.

“Local roads and bridges are essential to our communities, and need regular maintenance and continued investments to guarantee a strong economy and better future for our residents,” said Senator Ortt. “This job is made more difficult by skyrocketing costs for materials and labor, in addition to proposed funding cuts by the Governor. I am proud to stand alongside our local highway and public works officials calling for an increase in state funding to CHIPS and in support of critical investments in our infrastructure.”

“Governor Hochul’s Executive recommends cutting CHIPS funding by $60 million and State Touring Route aid by $40 million - a $100 million drop in local road funding,” said Commissioner Meal.  “At the same time, we have been hit with record high inflation of nearly 60 percent on highway construction materials, which obviously sends the cost for projects through the roof.  So, a combination of less funding and much higher costs means fewer projects getting done, which translates into further deterioration of our infrastructure.”

Commissioner Papponetti said, “To put what we are talking about into perspective, local roads account for eighty-seven percent of all roads in the state and carry forty-eight percent of all the vehicle miles traveled, yet less than 12 percent of  taxes and fees paid to the state by these drivers go back to maintaining local road.  It costs five times more to rebuild a bridge and sixteen times more to replace pavements that have become deficient than maintenance treatments and repairs to kept our infrastructure in a state of good repair.  This is not a time to be cutting, but a time to be increasing our investment in local roads and bridges.”

According to NYSDOT’s latest bridge inspection report over the past three years (2020-22) an additional 1.25 million square feet of local bridge decks have become deficient. Local bridge decks are declining at more than twice the rate of state bridge decks. This is the equivalent to nearly 20 lane miles of local bridge decks becoming deficient in just the past three years.   Furthermore, a 2023 update of a study conducted for the NYS Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, shows an additional $2.1 billion in annual spending is needed to address declining local road and bridge conditions, excluding New York City.

The full press conference can be viewed here:  https://www.facebook.com/niagaracounty/videos/1229736821764038

CHIPS Press Conf.3.15.24
 Picutred: Back Row John Olinger, Ridgeway Highway Superintendent; Kurt VanWycke, Carlton Highway Superintendent; Mike Neidert, Albion Highway Superintendent; Roger Wolfe, Yates Highway Superintendent; Devan Freeman, Lyndonville Public Works Superintendent; Tracy Chalker, Clarendon Highway Superintendent; Dale Root, Shelby Highway Superintendent; Mark Radzinski, Gaines Highway Superintendent; Dale Brooks, Barre Highway Superintendent

Front Row John Papponetti, Commissioner, Orleans County DPW; Jason Watts, Median Public Works Superintendent; Eric Maxon, Kendall Highway Superintendent; Ed Morgan, Orleans County Legislator