Miner, DiNapoli urge investment in state's crumbling infrastructure
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner are lobbying for more money from New York state to pay for infrastructure improvement. Standing in the shadow of the Evans Street Bridge in Syracuse that the state calls deficient, DiNapoli called on Albany to help localities fix bridges and roads that are falling apart. He said a recent report shows that local government spending on infrastructure has dropped dramatically.
"When you look at the needs out there, we had projected local governments should be spending about $3.9 billion a year," DiNapoli said. "Instead, they’re spending on $1.2 billion according to the most recent statistics.”
DiNapoli would like to see the state earmark more funds for fixing roads and bridges.
The 90-year-old Evans Street Bridge was built in Syracuse in 1927. You can still see the wooden beams under the tar that carries the road across Onondaga Creek and the Onondaga Creekwalk. Miner said it is only one of five city bridges rated as deficient. Moreover, she said finding the cash to fix them is becoming more difficult after a change in a federal highway program that put small bridges like this on the back burner.
"This bridge is going to cost us $864,000," Miner said. "So, when our funding to be shared with Onondaga County and other municipalities has gone from $2.1 million to just under $500,000, you can see that we will not be able to address all the deteriorating bridges.”
DiNapoli sympathizes with the mayor. He released a report last year that found local government spending on infrastructure has declined significantly in recent years. DiNapoli believes the state needs to step up and help as it determines budget priorities.
“I’ll leave it to the legislature and the governor's office as part of the budget process to figure how to mediate different expectations for all programs," DiNapoli said. "But, I think our message is a simple one. Infrastructure’s one that should not be placed at the back of the line. It needs to be at the front of the line in terms of our priorities.”