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The Southern Tier Has At Least 240 Bridges Deemed To Be In Poor Condition And Pose Worsening Safety Issues With Each Passing Day

Senator Secures Major Funding To Address Structurally Deficient Bridges, Road Repair Backlog 

Schumer: It’s Time To Invest In Southern Tier’s Bridges Before It Proves A Bridge Too Far

After securing $8,572,706 million for Delaware County in the American Rescue Plan to address the region’s greatest needs as New York recovers from the worst of the COVID pandemic, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer met with Delaware County officials to discuss the status of “poor-rated” bridges, and announced $13.5 billion for New York in the recently Senate-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA), to address the backlog of repairs needed to fix the county’s deficient bridges, highways, and roads. Of that amount, an estimated $1.9 billion is exclusively for a new bridge replacement and repair program. New York will also be able to compete for a share of the nation’s $12.5 billion in competitive grant funding for the new Bridge Investment Program in the bill. Schumer revealed that at least 240 bridges in the Southern Tier have been deemed to be in “poor condition” and are deteriorating every day, posing safety and structural issues if repairs are not made ASAP.

“It’s long past time to make urgent repairs to the over 240 structurally deficient bridges in the Southern Tier. Crumbling bridges and road are a hazard to motorists, and impede economic development. With an over $45 million backlog of repairs needed for Delaware County bridges alone, we cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Senator Schumer. “Not only will the $13.5 billion I fought to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework provide ample funding to finally address this backlog and fix dangerous bridges in the Southern Tier, but it will also be a major boon for the regional economy by creating good-paying construction jobs and making roads safer for everyone. Structurally deficient bridges cost New Yorkers time and money, and we must invest in the Southern Tier’s infrastructure before poor conditions prove a bridge too far.”

Schumer explained that structurally deficient bridges impact the economy negatively because they are frequently closed or posted for weight restrictions, forcing heavier vehicles such as trucks, busses, and farm equipment to find alternate routes that result in lost time and money. According to The Road Information Program, 10% of New York’s bridges are structurally deficient and continue to bear over 11.5 million vehicles per day. In the Delaware County, over 30 of bridges are structurally deficient.

New York’s bridge system is vital to supporting the Southern Tier economy, particularly its agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries, and are vital to the connectivity of the state. Nearly $1.3 trillion in goods are transported in New York every year – mostly by truck – and approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York are dependent on the state’s transportation network. Schumer argued that fixing the state’s structurally deficient bridges sooner rather than later is imperative because bridge repairs become exponentially more expensive as damages increase and conditions worsen.

“Our transportation system is aging and ailing, and this investment to repair bridges in the Southern Tier will prove invaluable to connecting New Yorkers for the next century,” added Schumer.

Schumer was joined by Susan McIntyre, Delaware County Commissioner of Public Works, Rob Aikens, President of the Binghamton-Oneonta Building Trades Council, and other local officials.

“On behalf of the Village of Sidney, I want to thank Senator Schumer for fighting to secure funding for infrastructure improvement projects that will benefit our community in Delaware County,” said Andy Matviak, Mayor of the Village of Sidney.

“Transportation infrastructure, specifically our roads and bridges, is critically important to Delaware County’s businesses and the local economy. The funding being made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will aid our local farms and businesses in being able to move products in and out of the county, as well as improve access to our region for tourists,” said Glenn Nealis, Director of Economic Development for Delaware County.

In addition to the $13.5 billion provided in highway and formula bridge funding, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also provides $12.5 billion for a competitive bridge program that states and localities can apply to. For the first time, the bill also creates the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program which provides $1 billion in competitive grants for planning and projects to remove, retrofit, or mitigate existing highways that were built through neighborhoods and created a barrier to mobility and economic development. The popular RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grants, formerly known as BUILD or TIGER, fund transportation projects of national and regional significance and are funded in the bill at $7.5 billion over five years. The INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant program, another competitive program that funds transportation projects with a strong connection to improving freight operations, is funded at $3.2 billion. Finally, New York is also expected to receive $175 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state, and the ability to apply for the $2.5 billion in competitive EV charging grants.

Schumer also outlined other wins for the Southern Tier region in the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. The Southern Tier will receive:

  • $790,000 for the Sidney Municipal Airport, $790,000 for the Albert S. Nader Regional in Oneonta, and $24,010,340 for other Southern Tier airports.
  • A sizable portion of the over $20 billion devoted for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, including a carve out within the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to replace lead service lines in communities like the Southern Tier.