Jump in construction spending forecast for 2023

Infrastructure spending will lead to a jump in spending on construction projects of an estimated 20 percent in the Rochester area in 2023, according to ENR New York’s City Scoop forecast. (Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel from Pexels)

Total construction starts for the Rochester area are expected to remain somewhat flat for the remainder of the year before jumping by an estimated 20 percent in 2023, according to ENR’s New York City Scoop.

Using information from Dodge Data and Analytics, ENR forecasts construction starts to total $2.053 billion for 2022, a bump of just $9 million from last year, before rising to $2.468 billion next year.

ENR says the largest single-sector increase in construction spending next year will come in the non-building category, with federal dollars for infrastructure spending the catalyst for highways and bridges, along with upgrade projects by electrical utilities.

Not only is construction spending forecast to rise significantly in 2023, ENR’s estimate is 71.2 percent higher than actual project spending in Rochester in all of 2019.

While the forecast calls for a year-over-year dip in spending on commercial and manufacturing projects, an increase is expected in educational and healthcare construction, as well as a 20.6 percent increase in multifamily ($315 million to $380 million).

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Boat launch work begins in Orleans County

The New York Department of State has begun construction on a $627,000 resiliency project awarded to Orleans County through the state’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI). The money will fund work on the Point Breeze Boat Launch near the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek, within Oak Orchard Harbor, in the town of Carlton.

During the flooding of 2019, the boat ramp became submerged, preventing access to the floating docks and forcing the boat launch to be closed. The project seeks to alleviate future flooding of the Point Breeze Boat Launch, ensuring recreational boaters have continued access to the dock system, the boat launch ramps and to local businesses and popular tourist attractions.

The boat launch, which was open to the public this season, is now closed for construction and will reopen in the spring of 2022.

“The Point Breeze Boat Launch provides a gateway to Oak Orchard Creek and Lake Ontario for economic, recreational and tourist activities. During the Lake Ontario high water events of 2017 and 2019 the Point Breeze Boat Launch became partially submerged resulting in limited access to safely launch boats,” said Orleans County Legislature Chairman Lynn Johnson. “Thanks to the efforts of the REDI Commission, we can fortify a very important piece of county infrastructure and sustain long-term use. These improvements will make our infrastructure more resilient to future high-water events while improving our ability to support economic and recreational activities.”

Resiliency measures to be implemented in this project include the installation of a new boat ramp and abutment above high water level; sloping of the roadway to the new boat ramp; and regrading the remaining portion of the roadway.

“When the Point Breeze Boat Launch is forced to be closed during high water events, the businesses that call Oak Orchard Harbor home pay the price. The work that is being undertaken will support our local businesses by ensuring that the launch remains open and accessible to both residents and visitors of Carlton,” said town of Carlton Supervisor Gayle Ashbery. “REDI continues to show the positive path that can be taken when state and local governments work in tandem.”

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the REDI Commission was formed and allocated $20 million for homeowner assistance, $30 million to improve the resiliency of businesses, and $15 million toward a regional dredging effort that will benefit each of the eight counties in the REDI regions. The remaining $235 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.

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Cuomo, lawmakers reach deal on $212 billion budget

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers reached a deal on the state’s budget this week.

The final, $212 billion budget includes a number of measures to aid industries and sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Additionally, the enacted budget closes the state’s deficit and invests in the ongoing response to the pandemic and recovery efforts.

Highlights of the budget include:
• A record $29.5 billion in aid to schools;
• $29 billion in public and private green economy investments;
• $2.4 billion for rent and homeowner relief;
• $2.4 billion for child care;
• $2.1 billion for excluded workers;
• 1 billion for small business recovery;
• A first-in-the-nation plan to make broadband internet affordable;
• Legalizing mobile sports betting; and
• Implementing comprehensive nursing home reforms.

“New York was ambushed early and hit hardest by COVID, devastating our economy and requiring urgent and unprecedented emergency spending to manage the pandemic,” Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “Thanks to the state’s strong fiscal management and relentless pursuit to secure the federal support that the pandemic demanded, we not only balanced our budget, we are also making historic investments to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century.

“This budget continues funding for the largest-in-the-nation $311 billion infrastructure plan, establishes a groundbreaking program to provide affordable internet for low-income families and enhances public safety through police reforms, all while continuing to provide relief to New Yorkers and small businesses as we recover from the pandemic,” Cuomo added. “I thank the legislative leaders — Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Heastie — for their partnership in helping make this critical budget a reality and delivering results for the people of this state.”

The budget comprises New York’s $311 billion infrastructure plan, which includes the governor’s $211 billion 2020-24 plan and his $100 billion 2015-2019 plan. The evolving plan increased by $36 billion in the budget with the inclusion of new development plans in New York City, a $3 billion environmental bond act, transportation programs and additional supportive, affordable and public housing support, as well as incremental increases to existing capital programs.

The budget includes legislation requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high-speed internet plan to qualifying low-income households. The state also will require providers to advertise the plan to ensure programs reach underserved populations statewide. To further bridge the gap, New York has partnered with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch ConnectED NY, an emergency fund to provide roughly 50,000 students in economically disadvantaged school districts with free internet access through June 2022.

The enacted budget directs $2.3 billion in federal child care resources to expand the availability, quality and affordability of child care. Child care providers would receive $1.3 billion in stabilization grants to support expenses, as well as additional funds for cleaning and safety. Further investments would be made to increase capacity in child care “deserts” and help parents find the child care provider that’s right for them.

The budget creates a $2.4 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to ensure residents can make rent and remain stable in their homes. The program will support households in rental arrears that have experienced financial hardship, are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn less than 80 percent of area median income.

The enacted budget includes comprehensive nursing home reform legislation to help ensure facilities are prioritizing patient care over profits, officials said. The reforms establish minimum thresholds for nursing home spending of 70 percent of revenues on direct resident care and 40 percent of revenues on resident-facing staffing, capping profits at five percent, and targeting unscrupulous related party transactions. Excess revenues recouped by the state will be deposited into the existing nursing home quality pool for further investments for nursing homes to meet high-quality standards.

The budget includes a $1 billion small business, arts, entertainment and restaurant relief package to help businesses and other organizations recover from the impacts of the pandemic:
• COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program: Provides $800 million in grant funding for small businesses including for-profit arts and cultural institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• New York Restaurant Resiliency Grant Program: $25 million in grant funding to support restaurants that provide meals to distressed and under-represented communities.
• Arts and Cultural Organization Recovery Grant Program: $40 million to provide grants through the New York State Council on the Arts to eligible arts and cultural nonprofit organizations to assist in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Restaurant Return-To-Work Tax Credit: Provides up to $35 million in tax credits to support restaurants hard hit by the pandemic through 2021.
• Extend and Enhance the Musical and Theatrical Production Credit for four years: In order to support musical and theatrical productions that occur in the state but outside of New York City, the budget extends the credit for four years through 2025 and increases it by $4 million to $8 million.

The 2022 enacted budget continues to lower personal income tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. In 2021, the fourth year of the multi-year tax cuts enacted in 2016, income tax rates have been lowered from 6.09 percent to 5.97 percent for taxpayers filing jointly in the $43,000-$161,550 income bracket, and from 6.41 percent to 6.33 percent in the $161,550-$323,200 income bracket. The cuts are expected to save 4.8 million New Yorkers more than $2.2 billion this year, officials said. When the cuts are fully phased in, middle-class taxpayers will have received an income tax rate cut of up to 20 percent, amounting to a projected $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the state’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.

The enacted budget includes new revenue resources that provide the revenues needed to make the investments that will support New York’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and New York’s recovery from it, according to the governor’s office, including:
• The budget deploys the first $5.5 billion of the $12.6 billion provided for in the federal American Rescue Plan Act 2021. These funds are integrated throughout the budget in accordance with available federal guidelines.
• The budget includes appropriation authority for local governments to receive federal support. The package of $10.8 billion in federal aid for local will help support essential workers and government employees, assist the vaccination efforts, boost local economies and support the network of local government services that New Yorkers depend on.
• The budget implements a surcharge on high earners through tax year 2027 that sets a top rate of 10.9 percent for all filers earning more than $25 million. The surcharge raises $2.8 billion in FY 2022, rising to $3.3 billion in FY 2023.
• The budget implements a surcharge on corporate tax rate that increases the business income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 7.25 percent for three years through tax year 2023 for taxpayers with business income greater than $5 million. It also increases the capital base method of liability estimation to 0.1875 percent from the 0.025 percent rate in effect last year. The capital base method increase continues to exempt qualified manufacturers, qualified emerging technology companies, and cooperative housing corporations. These changes raise $750 million in FY 2022 and $1 billion in FY 2023.
• The FY 2022 enacted budget authorizes mobile sports wagering. Once fully phased in, legalization will provide more than $500 million in revenue for the state to help rebuild from COVID-19 and grow what could be the largest sports wagering market in the U.S. into a profitable industry long-term. Once fully phased in, the program will provide $5 million annually to youth sports and $6 million to combat problem gambling, doubling the resources currently available. The remainder of this new revenue will be dedicated to education.

“While this year’s state budget includes some positive measures, such as support for struggling small businesses, tax relief for middle-class residents and significant funding for local roads and bridges, the inclusion of massive tax hikes and costly mandates poses a serious risk,” said Justin Wilcox, executive director of Upstate United, a nonpartisan, pro-taxpayer education and advocacy coalition. “Imposing $4 billion in new taxes will ultimately hurt New York’s recovery efforts. This immense tax burden will drive more New Yorkers out of the state; joining the 1.4 million former residents who have fled to other states over the last decade. Embracing a massive tax-and-spend approach over a responsible pro-growth plan is the wrong choice at the wrong time.”

The budget provides $6.2 billion for the second year of a record $12.3 billion, two-year Department of Transportation capital plan that will facilitate the improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit and DOT facilities, a 38 percent increase from the final two years of the last DOT capital plan.

“This year’s state budget includes an extraordinary investment in transportation infrastructure. With the unwavering efforts of our partners in the Senate and Assembly, and the support of Gov. Cuomo, local road and bridge programs will receive more than $1 billion in the coming fiscal year,” said Joe Wisinski, president of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association. “This essential funding will help keep millions of motorists safe and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and the Marchiselli program will increase by $100 million to $577.8 million and funding for Extreme Winter Recovery is $100 million. The budget also provides $100 million of new funding to localities responsible for State Touring Routes, increases highway aid through the PAVE NY program by $50 million to $150 million and maintains funding of local bridge projects through the BRIDGE NY program at $100 million. This represents an overall year-to-year increase of $285 million and brings funding for local highway and bridge projects to more than $1 billion.

“Due to the incredibly strong advocacy efforts of our partners and advocates, the overall NYSDOT capital program is the largest ever at $6.168 billion,” said Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO of Rebuild New York Now. “Within the NYSDOT capital program, state and local construction also hit a record level for the 2021-2022 budget at $4.8 billion. This significant increase in funding will allow for localities and municipalities across the state to repair decaying infrastructure and create more jobs to help our economy fully recover. New York families deserve this investment in their local communities.”

The budget provides more than $7.7 billion in state support for higher education in New York, an increase of $283 million, or 3.8 percent, from FY 2021. New York has increased funding for higher education by more than $1.7 billion, or 29 percent, since FY 2012. In addition, the enacted budget provides more than $1 billion in new capital funding to SUNY and CUNY.

“The pandemic-induced economic crisis has hit our most vulnerable students the hardest. Financial challenges, including food and housing insecurities, have disrupted their pursuit of a degree or certificate — and ultimately a rewarding, family-sustaining career in high-demand industries,” said Katherine Douglas, Monroe Community College interim president. “I’m grateful to Gov. Cuomo and our state legislators for their bold vision, leadership and support of our students. Federal and state support will eliminate hurdles to college access and completion, paving the way for more equitable, brighter futures for our students. It will also enable MCC to keep its tuition affordable. Together, we will help transform the lives of our students and the local community and revitalize our region’s economy.”

New York’s colleges and universities are expected to receive an estimated $5.4 billion in direct federal stimulus aid, including more than $3.4 billion for public colleges and close to $2 billion for private colleges. SUNY and CUNY have nearly $3 billion in remaining stimulus funds to spend over the next 2-3 years. A substantial portion of this funding will be used to provide financial aid grants to students with exceptional needs, such as students who receive Pell grants.

The FY 2022 enacted budget enacts a COVID-19 Recovery Workforce Initiative, which invests $50 million for training in high-growth industries, employer-driven training for low-income workers and funding for small businesses to re-train and hire furloughed, laid-off or new employees.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Department of Labor has paid out more than $75 billion in benefits to more than 4 million New Yorkers — more than 30 typical years’ worth of benefits. The budget supports reforms to the unemployment system, including upgrades to modernize technology, among other things.

The budget creates a $2.1 billion program to provide cash payments to workers who have suffered income loss due to COVID but who are ineligible for unemployment insurance or related federal benefits due to their immigration status or other factors.

“For the past few days, we have either been kept waiting on budget bills or working on them until the wee hours of the morning,” said Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-Lyons, in a statement Wednesday. “It seems the mindset for the Assembly Majority is that the bigger we grow the budget, the better New York will be. I feel the complete opposite, as I believe we must go to battle against the debt New York has stacked up in order for our state to get anywhere. We must speed up our debt payback. I view a successful budget as to not raise taxes but to reduce them at a rate of a percentage each year. The more money we can leave in the pockets of residents, the better shape our state will be in for future generations.”

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State to spend $357 million on transportation projects

The state of New York will spend $357 million for the renewal of roadways across the state, incorporating construction techniques that reduce fuel consumption and decrease the production of greenhouse gases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said recently.

The techniques allow existing materials to be reused and can reduce the number of materials that would otherwise be trucked to landfills. The projects are being designed and construction is set to begin next spring.

“New York continues to lead the nation in demonstrating that infrastructure investments supporting economic growth can be balanced with protecting our precious environmental and natural resources,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These investments are laying the foundation for sustained growth in tourism and business development while enhancing the resilience of the supporting infrastructure.”

The funding, administered by the state Department of Transportation, will support 135 paving projects and the renewal of roughly 1,740 lane miles of pavements across the state. In the Finger Lakes Region, roughly $41.2 million will be spent to renew 187 lane miles region-wide, including:
• $1.3 million to resurface Route 98 from Route 20 to the city of Batavia in the Towns of Alexander and Batavia, Genesee County.
• $27.5 million to resurface I-390 from Routes 5 & 20 (Exit 10) to I-90 (Exit 12), including mainline and ramps, in the town of Avon, Livingston County and in the towns of Henrietta and Rush, Monroe County.
• $1.4 million to resurface Route 96 from the village of Phelps to the village of Manchester in the towns of Phelps and Manchester, Ontario County.
• $1.2 million to resurface Route 237 from the Genesee County Line to the village of Holley in the towns of Clarendon and Murray, Orleans County.
• $974,000 to resurface Route 104A from the Wayne/Cayuga County Line to Route 104 in Wayne County.

“Investment in our infrastructure directly impacts our local economies across New York state, providing a safe pathway for the transportation of goods and services that so many rely on,” said Sen. Tim Kennedy, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. “Strong transportation networks are critical to attracting new jobs and businesses, and as we build back from the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding for environmentally conscious repairs will be an essential component to New York’s recovery.”

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Counties request federal infrastructure funding

As part of a call for federal funding, the New York State Association of Counties has submitted a list of infrastructure projects from 40 counties statewide totaling more than $7.35 billion. Monroe County was omitted from the request, although selected infrastructure projects were included with the letter.

The letter, sent late last month to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, calls for immediate action on infrastructure investment as part of any future economic stimulus packages. NYSAC projects that counties outside New York City actually need more than $10.8 billion in infrastructure funding and that fully funding the projects could create or save up to 200,000 jobs, helping to revitalize local economies as they begin the process of recovering from the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is the time to innovate, to invest in our future and to rebuild a stronger, smarter infrastructure for the good of all,” said NYSAC President John Marren in a statement. “It is in this spirit of renewal that we presented these project recommendations to our federal partners. These projects represent a significant opportunity to jumpstart our economy, add construction and trade jobs to our workforce and strengthen our infrastructure for the next generation of Americans.”

Officials noted that the request for funding comes at a time when counties are grappling with dramatic drops in revenues. Sales tax revenues for the month of May were down 32 percent statewide. NYSAC’s most recent Coronavirus Economic Impact Report projects that counties outside New York City will face revenue losses of up to $2 billion and the potential of another $1.5 billion in state budget cuts.

The six-county Rochester metropolitan area requests totaled nearly $394 million:
• Genesee County — $183.85 million
• Livingston County — $10.97 million
• Monroe County — $47.22 million
• Ontario County — $54.78 million
• Orleans County — $40.35 million
• Wayne County — $210 million

Notably, Genesee County is seeking more than $70 million for a shared Genesee County and Orleans County jail and temporary holding center in Albion that would have 181 beds and six holding cells. The county also is seeking $57 million for a countywide water project.

The bulk of Livingston County’s infrastructure needs include $3 million for a public market and $5 million for Livingston County Gateway Park. The county has planned an agribusiness park on more than 1.5 million acres of property in the town of Livonia.

The County of Monroe is looking for $8.35 million for the rehabilitation of East River Road from the Thruway to Ward Lane, as well as $6.15 million to rehab Hinchey Road from Pixley Road to Chili Avenue. Nearly $4 million is being requested to reconstruct Calkins Road from East Henrietta Road to Pinnacle Road.

Among Ontario County’s more than 40 projects, county officials are requesting $8.75 million for improvements to the Honeoye Lake wastewater plant; $6 million for Phase 2 of the Finger Lakes Community College nursing expansion; and $4.15 million for rehabilitation of County Road 16 to extend its useful life.

Orleans County is in need of $17.43 million for its Department of Public Works infrastructure improvements and $12.46 million for its shared water service infrastructure project, among other things.

Wayne County’s detailed list was not included in the NYSAC documents.

NYSAC noted that despite sales tax revenue losses, counties are required under state law to fully fund ad administer all state and federal programs, which are in high demand during the pandemic.

“Every community in New York has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and the corresponding economic shutdown in response to the virus,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “The infrastructure projects that we are presenting to Congress and the president today are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide an economic shot in the arm and reshape these communities better and stronger than ever before.”

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New program to address EV charging station costs

The New York State Department of Public Service is putting its support behind electric vehicles.

A new report from the department recommends the establishment of a statewide utility-support “Make-Ready” program that would provide incentives to light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment and infrastructure for both Level 2 and Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) stations statewide.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on board.

“Accelerating electric vehicle ownership is a key component of New York’s nation-leading plan to fight climate change and grow our clean energy economy,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The Make-Ready initiative will direct the state’s utilities to build the grid infrastructure needed to enable the installation of publicly accessible chargers, encouraging more New Yorkers to choose electric vehicles while creating jobs and ensuring our energy dollars stay in-state.”

The Make-Ready program would improve electric vehicle charging station economics by covering up to 90 percent of the costs to “make ready” a site for EV charging. The costs associated with building EV charging stations present barriers for developers.

Cuomo noted that more than 20,000 rebates have been approved for New Yorkers to buy electric cars under the Drive Clean Rebate initiative, which provides residents with a rebate of up to $2,000 to purchase an EV from participating dealers. In the Finger Lakes Region, nearly 2,100 applications have been received since the rebate initiative began. One-third of all applications statewide were in Long Island.

But while scores of New York drivers embrace the EV driving experience, nationwide last year some 325,000 plug-in passenger vehicles were sold, down nearly 7 percent from 2018, Edmunds reports. That represents just 2 percent of the total number of new vehicles sold nationwide last year.

Experts say the biggest reasons for the lack of enthusiasm toward EVs are cost and range anxiety. Some of that anxiety could be relieved with the state’s new Make-Ready program.

The Department of Public Service report suggests a number of actions to leverage the utilities’ expertise and unique position to promote zero-emission vehicle adoption. The Public Service Commission already has approved initiatives including residential time-of-use rates for charging and annual per-plug incentives to buy down the cost of installing publicly accessible direct current fast charger stations.

The Make-Ready program would run through 2025 to coincide with New York’s goal of deploying 850,000 zero-emission vehicles by the end of that year. The report proposes that utilities be required to incorporate EV charging scenarios into their annual capital planning processes to encourage “thoughtful siting” of charging infrastructure.

The charging infrastructure is estimated to provide New Yorkers with more than $2.6 billion in net benefits, according to the report. Fast-charger stations developed in the first year of the program are expected to have positive financial returns for all regions and site configurations, except for the larger 150 kW stations in Upstate New York. The report recommends that each region in upstate be eligible for additional incentives to make four or more fast-charging locations available in every region.

“The energy system of the future and the transportation system of the future need electric vehicles,” said Department of Public Service CEO John Rhodes. “This report proposes smart, forward-looking utility investments that are good for both electric customers and for car owners, and that accelerate Gov. Cuomo’s clean energy and clean transportation strategy.”

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Assembly Minority Conference releases infrastructure report

New York State’s Assembly Minority Conference, led by Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, plans to introduce a package of bills to improve funding for the state’s roads, bridges and water and sewer systems. The announcement followed Monday’s release of the task force’s new report, “New York’s Infrastructure: A Report on Fortifying Our Roads, Bridges and Water Systems.”

cars highways city aerial-view-architecture-bridges-681335Among the top infrastructure criticisms noted in the report is the age of the state’s infrastructure. As of late 2017, more than one in 10 state and local bridges were not up to federal standards, according to the report, and a 2018 CNBC study ranked New York’s infrastructure as seventh worst in the country due to the poor state of road, bridge and water system conditions.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that for every $1 spent on road, highway and bridge improvements, there is an average benefit of $5.20 yielded from reduced congestion, lower vehicle maintenance costs and lower road and bridge maintenance costs. The report also notes that according to a 2016 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, deficient roads cost New Yorkers $24.9 billion a year in vehicle operating costs, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

“What we learned strongly reinforces the undeniable reality that New York’s statewide and local transportation infrastructure faces critical deficiencies that demand our attention and action. It will require continued cooperation on targeted legislation, strategic planning and especially investment,” said task force co-chairman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning. “This is especially true when it comes to the need for the state to strengthen and increase its funding commitment to important programs like the (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, or CHIPS) for the improvement and ongoing maintenance of local roads, bridges and culverts, as well as investments for local water and sewer infrastructure. This network of local infrastructure is significant and vital, and these systems are in crisis.”

But securing funding, the report states, is a “never-ending battle.” The Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF), it states, has been heavily scrutinized in recent years for its inability to adequately fund capital investments.

Last fall, members of the minority conference hosted a series of eight regional forums to discuss topics that impact the state’s transportation and infrastructure. Testimony at the regional forums confirmed that efforts to fix the state’s transportation infrastructure depend on cooperation and commitment from every level of government.

“One sentiment was echoed unanimously at every forum: There is a crucial need for the state to forge a stronger partnership with municipalities and provide more robust and more consistent funding for local road, bridge and water infrastructure,” according to the report.

Municipalities statewide rely on CHIPS funding for maintenance and rehabilitation projects, and for some it is the sole source of their paving budget, but the yearly CHIPS base funding increased just $75 million in the last decade, according to the report.

“The rising costs of construction labor, materials and state-mandated rules and regulations have prevented localities from getting ahead,” the report states.

The report notes that forum speakers expressed concern with many of the state’s regulations, including complying with the 30 percent goal of hiring Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, difficulties complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the way in which CHIPS funding was received and used and the Prevailing Wage rate system, which forum participants described as “a regulatory burden that was overly complex and unreasonably costly, driving project expenses up substantially.”

“Professionals from every region of the state spoke with us about their experiences and challenges, and our commitment to uncovering the most complete picture of our state’s infrastructure issues remains unmatched. This report represents a team effort toward the singular goal of making life better for all New Yorkers—better roads and a stronger, safer transportation system leads to greater opportunities for everyone,” said task force co-chairman Kevin Byrne, R-Mahopac. “If there was ever an issue to unite legislators from both political parties, this is it. We must, and will, fight tooth-and-nail to enact whole scale reform to the way our state approaches transportation funding before it’s too late.”

Among some of the conference proposals generated from the task force are:

  • Ensure funding parity between the upcoming state Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Five-Year Capital Programs;
  • Increase CHIPS base aid by $100 million per year for five years and tie to the consumer price index to account for inflation and increasing material costs;
  • Enact legislation mandating that all funding for the DHBTF is to be used only for capital infrastructure, not for state operations or debt service payments;
  • Expand support for the Clean Water Investment Act (CWIA) to ensure long-term commitment to water and sewer infrastructure;
  • Establish a companion for the existing CHIPS program, offering financial assistance to local governments for drinking, storm and sewer water infrastructure, called the Water Infrastructure Investment Program (WIIPS);
  • Continue, strengthen and improve programs in the state DOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Program to help municipalities plan for improvements;
  • Establish a CHIPS-like formula for culverts based on the length of culverts within the municipality;
  • Require the DOT to release a report each year detailing the condition of state-owned roads and bridges;
  • Direct the DOT to develop a 20- to 30-year long-term transportation plan; and
  • Require the state DOT to submit its capital plan for approval.

“New York State is on the cusp of an infrastructure crisis; too many roads, bridges and sewers are in disrepair and the long-term investments needed to return them to form simply aren’t there. As I’ve said before: without safe and efficient ways to transport goods and resources, our economy will crumble, literally, from the ground up. Every infrastructure dollar matters,” Kolb said. “Through the tremendous efforts of this task force, our conference has a report with real, actionable solutions. I look forward to advocating for these proposals and solutions during the upcoming budget process and through the 2019 Legislative Session.”

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Plan for highway, bridge upgrades announced

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo on Thursday announced infrastructure funding that will create or sustain 4,000 jobs through 2024.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo on Thursday announced infrastructure funding that will create or sustain 4,000 jobs through 2024.

Monroe County has allocated $32 million toward infrastructure improvements this year and plans to spend nearly $200 million through the next seven years.

The investment will create and sustain nearly 4,000 jobs over the funding period, officials said Thursday.

“Infrastructure projects are the building blocks of the modern economy,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said. “As we seek to incentivize businesses to relocate and expand here in Monroe County, it’s vital that we make public investments that match and complement our anticipated private investments. Roads, highways and bridges are an integral piece of commercial activity and we will continue to prioritize infrastructure improvements to help attract and retain local jobs for years to come.”

The funding will be allocated toward paving projects, highway rehabilitation, bridge maintenance and highway lighting/traffic projects. The county expects to spend at least $180 million through 2024.

Officials, citing an infrastructure study conducted by Duke University, said the investment will translate to an economic impact of more than $113 million in 2018.

“Whether we’re talking about our ongoing airport revitalization or our investments in roads and bridges, we want Monroe County to be a community where transportation is easy, convenient and encouraged,” Dinolfo said. “Infrastructure projects create jobs, facilitate economic development and help residents take advantage of all our region has to offer. This infrastructure investment is a win-win for more jobs and a strong quality of life in Monroe County.”

The 2018 infrastructure investment includes funding from both the state and federal government, with nearly two-thirds derived from the county’s Capital Improvement Program, approved by the County Legislature in December. The funding for future years is included in the new CIP Dinolfo proposed, which will be considered this year.

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$1.5M state grant to help Monroe fix 2017 flooding issues

In this May 2, 2017 file photo, floodwaters from Lake Ontario fill a yard along Edgemere Drive, in Greece. (AP, File)
In this May 2, 2017 file photo, floodwaters from Lake Ontario fill a yard along Edgemere Drive, in Greece. (AP, File)

The County of Monroe will receive $1.5 million in grant funding from the state Office of Community Renewal to support a number of county infrastructure restoration and mitigation projects along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

“The flooding of Lake Ontario in 2017 took a significant toll on public infrastructure and therefore impacted every local taxpayer, not just those who live near the lake,” County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in a statement. “Our county teams worked hard to ensure that no public services were disrupted by the flooding, but even now we are still repairing impacted infrastructure while reinvesting in improvement projects to prevent future damage.”

The $1.5 million, awarded through the state’s 2017 Imminent Threat Program, will be invested into public infrastructure maintained by the county’s Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Services and Department of Parks. Of that, $1 million will be used to restore county-owned public infrastructure damaged by last year’s flooding, while the remainder will fund resiliency projects to prevent further damage in the event of future flooding.

Projects include restoration of the Lakeshore Interceptor Sewer and repair of the Charlotte Pump Station, replacement of pumps used to relieve street flooding and protect homeowner property and rehabilitation and protection of Bay Front South Road, among other things.

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