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State boosts highway funding for NNY counties

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The north country will see a hefty increase in the amount of funding for highway improvements, according to new spending projections released Monday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Jefferson County will see $6,999,769.06 in the 2013-14 budget, up 23.5 percent from the previous year. St. Lawrence County and its municipalities will receive $9,289,884.48, a 24 percent increase from the previous year, and Lewis County will get $4,015,483.70, up 24 percent from last year.

The state released the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program numbers Monday. Overall, the state will spend $438 million, an increase of $75 million from the year before. This year’s plan shows the first increase in CHIPs funding since the 2008-09 budget.

“This budget is about jobs, jobs, jobs, and by investing in rebuilding our state’s transportation infrastructure we are helping to grow local economies and create jobs in all corners of the state,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement announcing the new figures.

More than 500 village, town and county highway superintendents from across the state converged on Albany earlier in the month, meeting with representatives to ask for more funding.

Lewis County Highway Superintendent David L. Becker said they met with Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River; and state Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

“They were very receptive,” Mr. Becker said. “They said they were going to fight for us.”

After an initial commitment of $15 million following the meeting, a budget bill included an increase of $75 million per year for the next two years.

In addition to the new CHIPs funding, the state’s budget includes several million dollars for specific road projects around the region. Among the money that could be spent is $5.73 million for reconstructing Patterson Street, Ogdensburg; $4.8 million for work on Route 180 over Black River, Dexter; $3.46 million for repairs on the railroad bridge on Arsenal Street, city of Watertown; and $910,000 for work on Alexandria Bay’s Riverwalk project.

Several communities have had safe-route-to-school projects pegged for new funding, such as $170,000 for the town of Adams and $90,000 for the village of Canton.

The full CHIPs funding figures can be found at www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/CHIPS-Funding-Breakdown.pdf.

Johnson Newspapers reporter Christina Scanlon contributed to this report.

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