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More federal money sought for rural bridges

Sen. Charles Schumer wants to add about $50 million to funding that comes to New York for upkeep and repair of rural bridges.

The federal government provides the state with $71 million a year right now to maintain the thousands of bridges that don’t fall under federal purview. That number is tied to a 2009 transportation bill.

There are efforts in Congress to continue to cap that amount through 2020. The Democrat says continuing to cap the fund will lead to further deterioration of rural bridges. 

"It’s not enough," Schumer said. "Especially when federal funding is increasing each year for bridges that are on the federal highway system. If nothing is done, our local bridges in New York are at risk of being short-changed for another six years." 

Schumer says even increasing funding 25 percent to about $125 million won’t rebuild all the bridges.

"Even the 25 percent doesn’t do enough to bring them all back, but it prevents us from falling behind and allows us to move ahead some," he said. "In other words, we wouldn’t be able to deal with all the bridges with that 25 percent, but many more."

There are about 2,200 bridges in the state not under the federal highway system. Hundreds of those are marked as beginning to deteriorate.

The issue will be part of the federal transportation spending package to be voted on next month.