Late state budget delays road projects for municipal highway departments

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 4:36 PM EDT
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TOWN OF LORRAINE, New York (WWNY) - The late state budget may not directly affect your life, but it is changing up plans for many town highway departments because the state funds local road improvement projects.

The Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program reimburses municipalities for the work done by highway departments throughout the year. Many north country towns and villages use CHIPS funding to offset the costs of maintaining roadways.

“The state gives each municipality a set amount of money to repair their roads, and build new roads, put culvert pipes in, improved infrastructure and such,” said Lorraine Town Highway Superintendent Joe Wasilewski.

He says some towns and villages may be scaling back on summer roadwork as funding for departments hits a traffic jam, with the state budget now more than two weeks late.

“We’re going to have to hold off on some of the larger projects, and just keep working on the smaller projects we have until we know for sure that we’re getting funded,” said Wasilewski.

The CHIPS program pays towns and villages back after the work is done. Without knowing how much money the state will pitch in for projects like paving, north country highway departments are reassessing the summer schedule.

“Not knowing for sure if we’re getting all of that, it’s kind of hard for us to go out and start a large project,” said Wasilewski.

Jefferson County Highway Department Superintendent James Lawrence says the county has not felt the effects of the delayed budget yet, as summer paving and construction are still a few weeks out from construction and paving season.