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March 30, 2013

State boosts funds for local road work

Tonawanda News — New York state’s recently adopted budget includes a significant increase in money for infrastructure in Niagara County.

The program called CHIPS was established in 1981 and provides funding for road, bridge and highway repairs statewide. 

In the latest state budget, funding for the program was increased by $75 million, according to a statement released Thursday by Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane.

Locally, that translates to $6.4 million headed to Niagara County, a 21 percent increase over the previous allotment.

Maziarz, in his statement, said the funding increase is the first such increase since the state’s 2008-09 spending plan.

“Funding for infrastructure improvements is a critical investment that New York state must make,” Maziarz said. “The municipalities, many of which maintain state roads have seen an increase in both the cost of repairing their roads and bridges, but also in the number of them that need repairs.”

A further breakdown of the increase shows North Tonawanda is in line for $734, 153, an increase of $136,790 over last year. 

The condition of the city’s roads has been a hot-button topic for years in the Lumber City, and was a major theme in Mayor Rob Ortt’s recent State of the City address.

A Maziarz aide on Thursday said Oliver Street has been named in conversations with city leaders on the topic of street repairs, although local city officials are ultimately responsible for deciding how the money is used.

In the Town of Wheatfield, anticipated CHIPS funding is $85, 592, an increase of $17, 124.

“This important investment not only ensures the safety of the public that travels on them, but creates jobs in the construction and transportation industries and improves economic development,” Maziarz is quoted in the statement as saying.

Contact City Editor Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 4114.

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