State boosts road budget

Local towns to see additional ‘extreme weather assistance’

A harsh winter left many areas throughout Albany County with heavily damaged roads, prompting the state to funnel additional money to local municipalities to tackle surface and pothole repairs.

State Sen. Cecila Tkaczyk, in a statement supporting the “extreme weather” addition to the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, said, “I have driven 20,000 miles on the roads of this district since the fall, and I’ve seen firsthand the toll this winter took. … Without additional resources, local municipalities simply would not be able to handle road repairs in a timely fashion. I felt it was absolutely critical to get these additional funds into the budget.”

Across the state, communities are receiving an extra $40 million for extreme winter weather assistance. Included in the state budget was $438 million for the Consolidated Highway Improvement System, or CHIPS. Albany County municipalities will receive $7.5 million for local highway, road and bridge repair projects.

This is welcome news to local highway superintendents who said this winter has pushed their resources to the max.

“From a road maintenance standpoint, it was tough,” said Town of Colonie Department of Public Works commissioner Jack Cunningham. “It was colder than normal, and we had a long period of cold temps where the ground was frozen for a long period of time. We ended up using all of our salt budget and all our overtime, and we have a lot of potholes.”

Town of Bethlehem Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith said the town’s salt stores took a hit this year. The town will be receiving an additional $36,000 in extreme aweather aid to its $316,000 in CHIPS funding.

“This year we purchased 2,989 tons of salt. Last year we used 1,890 tons. The year before that, we purchased 2,498 tons. The average over the last five years is 2,943. With a similar amount, we may have had a full salt shed at the end of winter and this year that isn’t the case,” said Meredith.

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