Asks State to Equitably Distribute Funds
Washington, DC—Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) called on New York State to stop their inequitable distribution of federal bridge funding, which over the past nine years, has shortchanged Erie County’s local governments by $158 million in bridge projects. In a letter to Governor George Pataki today, Higgins proposed to immediately dedicate $158 million in coming fiscal years for a bridge or bridges to connect downtown Buffalo to the Outer Harbor, addressing the historic maltreatment of Erie County.
“Time and again, residents of Erie County have been deprived of their fair share of federal bridge funding. We now have a shortfall of funds for new planned bridge projects in Buffalo, including the proposed Main Street Bridge and others. It is time for the state to remedy past inequities and focus on what Buffalo fairly deserves and on improvements on which our future depends. Dedicating $158 million to a new waterfront bridge, based on the past shortfall numbers, to Erie County would be a bold action demonstrating the State’s confidence in the future of Western New York. ”
The $158 million shortfall was revealed in an analysis of the federal Highway Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program (HBRR). Since 1998, only 1.54% of the bridge funding sent to New York State from the federal government was allocated to projects in Erie County. Erie County residents pay 6.62% of the federal gas tax sent to Washington from New York State, and as such, Higgins believes the county ought to receive at least 6.62% of the federal funds sent to Albany for bridge construction and repair in New York State.
Furthermore, Higgins asked that the New York State Department of Transportation update its administration of the HBRR program to ensure that federal bridge funds are distributed on a regionally equitable basis in the future.