State Should Increase Reimbursement Rate For Highway Work

New York state has occasionally kicked in additional money to localities for road work in extraordinary circumstances in recent years.

That isn’t enough.

It’s been 32 years since the state increased its reimbursement rate for maintenance on state highways. Jamestown has 239,440 square yards, or 20 miles, of state arterial highways, which ranks fourth in the state behind New York City with 7,999,975, Yonkers with 502,441 and Niagara Falls with 472,499.

Cities currently get 85 cents per a square yard to maintain state highways, though they are asking for a “cost-of-living” allowance that would increase that state reimbursement to $1.87 per square yard. That would increase Jamestown’s reimbursement from $203,524 to $447,753.

Legislation in the state Legislature would set the new reimbursement rate to $1.87 per square yard as well as allow the price to be adjusted each year consistent with changes to the Consumer Price Index.

The state highways inside Jamestown include Fluvanna Avenue from the city’s northern border to Washington Street; Washington Street to Prospect Street, where the highway turns into Foote Avenue; Foote Avenue to South Avenue; all of Forest Avenue to South Avenue; East Second Street from Tiffany Avenue to where it verges with Fourth Street, ending at Prendergast Avenue; West Third Street from Monroe Street to McDaniel Avenue; and Fairmount Avenue/West Sixth Street from McDaniel Avenue to around Murray Avenue. These are some of the most traveled streets in the city — and the state has been shortchanging the city on maintenance on them for quite some time. Think about that the next time you take a teeth-jarring drive down West Third Street in the spring or the next time you’re swerving around potholes on East Second Street. The city might be able to get more of those holes filled if the state was paying its fair share.

There are times the state Legislature spends the state’s money stupidly. Increasing reimbursements for maintenance work to state roads is not one of them. The state should increase this reimbursement rate in time for the 2020-21 state budget.

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