Infrastructure needs funding

New York state has a serious infrastructure problem, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature are failing to address it properly.

Recently, Cuomo told Syracuse he has no plans to help repair that city’s failing water system. He told the editorial board of the Syracuse Post Standard, “Show us how you become economically stronger and create jobs. Then you fix your own pipes.”

Cuomo’s administration has so far focused on trying to stimulate upstate economic development by supporting the creation of technology and business hubs in places such as Utica, Buffalo and Syracuse with a combination of state funding and tax incentives. Cuomo’s plans in those areas may pay off in time, but it remains an open question whether the failing roads, bridges, sewers and water pipes of upstate New York will be capable of supporting the economic growth he’s hoping to foster.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates New York state is facing $22 billion in costs to upgrade its municipal water systems. The state’s own estimates have the potential costs at $39 billion.

The New York chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers last month gave a low rating to the state’s infrastructure. “One-third of New York’s major highways are considered to be in poor or fair condition,” the report stated. It noted half of the state’s bridges are at least 75 years old and more than 100 are closed because of serious deficiencies.

This problem hits home in our area, where many roads, bridges and water systems need repair. In Fulton County alone, nearly 40 bridges are rated by the New York State Department of Transportation as deficient. Localities can’t afford to fix these problems on their own.

The state must make infrastructure repair a priority. Cuomo and the Legislature should ensure the state sets aside the money necessary to upgrade the water, sewer, road and bridge infrastructure vital for economic prosperity. New York should do this at the expense of other state programs that aren’t as urgent.