NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A push is on to add billions of dollars to New York’s road and bridge building fund, but Albany will be stressed to find the money in a year when the state faces a huge deficit.
Outside Teamsters’ Hall in Elmsford, the road is pitted with potholes, while inside is found a display of determination to prioritize money for road and bridge repairs, reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“This is the number one complaint from across my district that our roads and bridges are simply not invested in the way our taxpayers need,” said State Senator Shelley Mayer.
Union workers and local politicians are pushing the state to spend $35 billion on roads and bridges over the next five years, a 25-percent increase above the current five-year plan.
The sad state of the roads is taking an economic toll.
“It damages people’s vehicles, it slows the delivery of goods and services,” said State Senator Peter Harckham. “We need this now.”
The problem is New York faces a budget deficit of up to $6 billion. Even as advocates are demanding more money for schools, healthcare and housing, many question how high a priority roads and bridges should be.
Lawmakers are looking to the budget plan Gov. Andrew Cuomo will released next week.
“When we see the details of his initial proposal we’ll be able to respond thoughtfully,” said Mayer.
Infrastructure construction in New York is expensive. A recent study shows New York spends $66,000 per lane mile of highway versus a national average of $37,000. The cost is even higher in New Jersey, coming in at $200,000 per lane mile.
The Teamsters president stood fast when questioned about controlling labor costs.
“You get what you pay for sometimes,” said Local 456 President Louis Picani. “I don’t know the statistics that you just said about the cost analysis. All I know is when you build union you build it right.”
The construction unions have political muscle and will use it to make sure infrastructure funding is a priority in the upcoming legislative session.