Gillibrand calls for funding change for bridge repairs


Kirsten Gillibrand - FILE PHOTO
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
Elected officials have spent quite a bit of time over the last few years trying to draw attention to bridges that need repair.

Late last month, for example, a group of Republican Assembly members joined Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Gates Supervisor Mark Assini next to the I-390 bridge over Trolley Boulevard in Gates. Chunks of concrete are falling off the bridge and Assini said that if it were up to him, he'd shut down the bridge and Trolley  Boulevard beneath it, reported WXXI.

The officials called on the state and federal governments to increase funding for bridge repairs. (Beginning with his Congressional run last year, Assini has been on something of a mini-crusade for bridge funding.)

Yet last year, some Congressional Republicans blocked a transportation bill that would have increased federal highway and bridge funding. And with it, they killed off a measure introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would have allowed states to direct federal funding to state- and locally-owned roads and bridges. 

During a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Gillibrand said that she plans to reintroduce the measure as an amendment to the 2016 transportation bill.

Gillibrand said that her amendment is about flexibility. Under current law, federal road and bridge funding can only be used on federal highways and bridges. Her measure wouldn't increase the amount of federal aid for highway and bridge repairs, but would allow states to direct the money to projects on priority bridges, whether they are under local, state, or federal control, she said.

New York has more than 17,000 bridges, and one in three need some level of repairs, she said. The Rochester-Finger Lakes Region has approximately 580 bridges that need repairs, she said.