U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today outlined his position that any proposed infrastructure bill in the next Congress must be fueled by substantial and direct federal funding, and said that such a bill would have significant positive impacts by employing millions of Americans, modernizing New York's aging infrastructure and boosting New York's economy. Senator Schumer highlighted rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure like roads, bridges, transit systems, water-and-sewer systems, and the electrical grid, as well as the creation of new projects for storm and flood mitigation and resiliency, new schools and workforce-training facilities.
Schumer said that an infrastructure bill that directly invests real federal dollars in these building projects would reduce traffic and congestion, improve public health, increase safety, boost economic growth and help educate the next generation of Americans. All this, said Schumer, would make Upstate New York more competitive for new and existing businesses. For this reason, Schumer said he will work in good faith in the next Congress to craft a major infrastructure bill with direct investment early next year.
"It's plain to see, New York's infrastructure is falling apart," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. "That's why we need to pave the way for real infrastructure funding that revives our economy, ensures public safety and takes the local taxpayers off the hook for billions of dollars in past neglect. The first 100 days of this new Administration could provide us with a real shot at fixing New York's aging sewers, roads and bridges. Though the devil is in the details, it is clear that New York is ready, willing and able to make these repairs, we just need the funding to get the job done."
In New York alone, the implications of minimal investment in infrastructure over the last few decades has become sadly apparent. Schumer pointed to an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report stating that over half of New York's 17,000 bridges are over 75 years old and New York's roadways are in increasingly worse condition, costing drivers hundreds of dollars a year in extra operating costs. In fact, ASCE estimates that poor road and bridge conditions in New York cost the average family with two cars over $1,000 a year in Albany, over $800 a year in Rochester, and over $900 a year in Syracuse.
Furthermore, upstate New York's transit systems require at least $1 billion in capital over the next five years just to maintain a state of good repair, and tens of billions more are needed for downstate transit and rail systems. In addition to roads and transit systems, New York's water and sewer systems are also starving for federal investment. Schumer highlighted that one out of every four of New York's wastewater facilities is operating beyond its useful life and 30 percent of New York's 22,000 miles of underground sewers are more than 60 years old. A recent report by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli put New York's combined water and sewer needs at more than $30 billion.
In addition to these areas, investment is also needed in other types of infrastructure like broadband, dredging, flood mitigation, environmental clean-up and redevelopment, and school construction. According to New York State, as of December 2014, there were approximately 2,482,338 households across Upstate New York that did not have access to 100 Mbps broadband service, a problem that limits further growth and economic development in many regions of the State, and 221,090 households do not even have access to 25 Mbps broadband service. Each year the Army Corps of Engineers alone has millions of dollars of unfunded dredging and flood control projects throughout Upstate New York that put homeowners at risk of devastating flooding should another Irene or Lee type storm hit the region. Schumer also highlighted that in some regions of the State -- like throughout the Hudson Valley -- where the lack of investment in water, sewer, and energy infrastructure has significantly reduced the number of shovel-ready sites, hurting the region's ability to attract new employers.
Schumer said all of these examples make clear that a real infrastructure investment of a trillion dollars will help New York and other states. Adequately addressing these issues would improve safety, decrease costs to middle class families, improve water and air quality, create good paying jobs and help attract new businesses and investment. While Congress passed a major transportation bill -- the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act -- over a year ago, Schumer said there is still more to be done to address our country's decaying infrastructure.
Schumer said he stands ready to work with the incoming administration to pass a major infrastructure bill with a trillion dollars in real federal funding, and believes it is possible in the first 100 days of the new Administration, assuming the infrastructure proposal does not comes at expense of cutting other vital government programs to pay for it. Schumer made it clear that he will not accept any infrastructure proposal that is made up of gimmicks or tax breaks that don't actually help move the economy forward, instead Schumer should said there should be a real federal investment.