NY’S Infrastructure Crisis Will Be A Pricey Priority

It’s been five years since the Cuomo administration sought approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to install promotional “I Love NY” signs along major roadways across the state. The request was denied, but Gov. Cuomo and his administration ignored the FHA and put up more than 500 signs in a display of arrogance. If they aren’t removed by September 30, New York stands to lose $14 million in federal highway funds. At a time when our infrastructure was recently ranked among the nation’s worst, that timeline couldn’t be more ominous.
Last month, CNBC released a study ranking the nation’s infrastructure, highlighting the 10 worst states. New York came in at Number 7. The study, giving the state a “D” grade, looked at the percentage of roads in poor or mediocre condition, the percentage of deficient bridges, commute times and funding required to upgrade the water system over the next 20 years. Out of a total 400 points, New York could only muster up 158, putting it behind only Mississippi, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
This is a massive issue that will carry a massive price tag to properly address. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report last fall indicating local governments need $27.4 billion in bridge repairs. I’ve said it before: without safe and efficient ways to transport goods and resources, our economy will crumble, literally, from the ground up. Every infrastructure dollar matters. But those dollars don’t seem to matter nearly enough to the governor.
The illegal, unnecessary highway signs cost taxpayers more than $8 million to create and install. If the signs don’t come down, the Cuomo administration will have wasted more than $22 million.
Gov. Cuomo recently directed the MTA to spend upward of $30 million to re-tile two subway tunnels in blue and gold. In addition, approximately 3,500 orange lane dividers in two tunnels were replaced with blue-and-gold pylons, which don’t comply with federal guidelines yet cost $253,000 to install. Let’s not forget the proposed decorative light projects for MTA bridges and tunnels that carry cost estimates in excess of $200 million.
At a time when every dollar of funding is critical, the governor’s devotion to irresponsible pet projects screams government waste and turns a blind eye to the needs of New York’s motorists, businesses and visitors.
We must make immediate upgrades to our failing infrastructure, but we need adequate funding to do so. With some of the oldest infrastructure in the nation, we must identify and develop solutions to help build a transportation system that our communities, motorists and taxpayers deserve.
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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