Good news, motorists.
The state has ponied up more money to help municipalities fix all those potholes you keep driving over courtesy of the harsh winter.
An additional $40 million for “extreme winter weather assistance” was included in the state’s 2014-15 budget and will be dispersed to communities across New York as part of the annual allotment of funds for highway improvements, state lawmakers announced on Friday.
“These investments will benefit towns and villages throughout Erie County so that new infrastructure repair projects can be undertaken,” State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer said Friday.
The Republican lawmaker from Clarence has been enduring the potholes like the rest of us.
“I have a road that goes right next to my house that’s a disaster,” said Ranzenhofer, a member of the State Senate’s transportation committee. “So it’s not something I’m reading about. I’m living this every day.”
Potholes generally form when water seeps into the pavement, expands upon freezing and then breaks apart the asphalt. They tend to be more noticeable during the spring, but potholes thrived this winter from the alternating bouts of frigid and relatively warm weather.
Highway crews would fill the potholes one day only to have the snowplows rip out the fillings a week later.
“They’re really all over the place,” said John Loffredo, Erie County commissioner of public works. “As far as wear and tear on the roads, this was the worst I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been in this business a long time.”
Highway superintendents from around the state – whose budgets are under strain from the amount of money spent on road salt and overtime to plow drivers – went to Albany in March to ask for more help fixing the damaged roads caused by this past winter, said Fred Piasecki Jr., president of the Town Highway Superintendents Association of Erie County.
State lawmakers turned out to be a receptive audience.
“They had a firsthand experience,” said Piasecki, who is Orchard Park’s highway superintendent. “They had been driving over the roads and really understood what we were facing.”
The state last year handed out to municipalities a record $438 million for the repair of local bridges and roads through its Consolidated Highway Improvement Program.
That figure will rise more than 9 percent to $478 million in the 2014-15 budget, thanks to the additional aid to fix potholes and roads.
“Thankfully,” said State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, who serves on the Senate transportation committee, “the state has heeded our call for increased funding to assist local towns and cities struggling under this winter’s heavy costs.”
It will mean a total of $20.1 million to repair roads and bridges throughout Erie County and its municipalities, according to figures from the State Department of Transportation. That includes $9.5 million for Erie County, which is up 8 percent; $4.4 million for Buffalo, up 9 percent; $652,980 for Amherst, up 11.3 percent; $476,411 for Cheektowaga, up 11.7 percent; and $431,911 for the Town of Tonawanda, up 11.7 percent.
“This will be welcome,” Piasecki said. “I think everybody is happy it is coming.”