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State boosts highway works funding for north country in new budget

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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.

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

The Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program numbers were released Monday.

Overall, the state will spend $438 million, an increase of $75 million from the year before. This year is the first increase to 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,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement announcing the new figures.

Over 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, State Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

“They were very receptive, “ Mr. Becker stated. “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 Paterson Street, Ogdensburg; $3.46 million for repairs on the railroad bridge on Arsenal Street, 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 $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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