Adequate Infrastructure Is a Basic Necessity

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River)
October 13, 2017

Recently, one of the bridges in our area made breaking news. It was revealed that this bridge was no longer safe to use for school buses carrying children to and from school. News like this is both unsettling for our local residents and a logistical nightmare for a local school tasked with getting students to and from class in a safe manner.

While it is unnerving to hear of an infrastructure issue so dangerous in our district, the deterioration of bridges is a problem being faced by communities across the state. Recent reports by the state comptroller indicate that nearly 13 percent of all local bridges in New York are categorized as structurally deficient, with an estimated $27 billion needed to repair these structures.

While the comptroller has indicated that these structures are still safe to drive on, it is unacceptable that a state which spends over $150 billion each year is unable to provide basic infrastructure for its residents. No parent should have to fear for the safety of their child on a bus as it crosses a state-owned bridge. The allocation of proper funding for infrastructure upstate has been a fight in Albany for years, and news such as this perfectly depicts why we need to ensure we receive our fair share.

Earlier this year, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with road and highway workers and rallied to advocate for increased highway and bridge funding in this yearís state budget. Funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) is always a hotly-contested issue. I understand that the legislators from New York City have their own infrastructure issues, but ensuring the rest of New York State receives its fair share of funding should be a given.

This year, my Conference and I were able to obtain over $438 million for CHIPS and $100 million for the Bridge-NY Program. While this funding will go a long way toward helping provide jobs for local infrastructure projects and ensure our roadways are safe, there is always room to improve. Thatís why next year when I return to Albany, I am ready to fight for our community, ensure we receive what we are owed and can provide safe transportation for our families around the district.

I want to know what you think about this or any other legislative matter. Please contact me by emailing or by calling my office at 315-493-3909.