Two of New York’s poorly ranked bridges cross Interstate 590 near Pittsford Plaza. During a visit to Monroe Avenue in Brighton Monday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer pointed to the bridges and at one point touched the rust. He remarked on the visible wear on those structures.
He said bridges like these are one of the reasons why he pushed hard to pass President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. He said $13 billion from the bill is expected be spent in New York state.
“Too many of our bridges, over 145, are deemed in poor condition, poor condition, we can’t have that,” Schumer said. “Imagine if they weren’t working anymore? God forbid, if they collapsed on someone, but even if they didn’t this area would come to a grinding halt if people could no longer use the bridge.”
Schumer said the bill requires union labor to be used for the projects which pleases Grant Malone of the Rochester Building & Construction Trades Council which represents roughly 10,000 construction workers and 18 member unions.
“We all know there’s no better way to re-energize our economy than by putting people back to work rather than rebuilding our infrastructure,” said Malone.
Rep. Joe Morelle, who was at the press conference, called the conditions of New York's bridges and highways unacceptable. He said that deteriorating roads cost New Yorkers money every year. Morelle called the investments in the bill historic and transformational, comparing it to one of the largest investments in American history.
“It's not since the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt’s time that we’re talking about making the investments that we’re talking about here,” said Morelle.
There’s a ranking system that would factor into which bridges would be repaired first, but Schumer said they’ll rely on local leaders to decide which ones need the money. He said there’s enough in the bill to cover most of the bridges in the state. Morelle said 50 of the bridges are in the Rochester area and the costs of the improvements needed is more than municipalities can pay for.
"That's why we're not looking for patchwork funding," said Morelle. "That's why its a transformational investment in our roads and bridge system."
Morelle sits on the House Rules Committee and is needed back in Washington, D.C. next Monday to move the bill into a rare process known as reconciliation. Reconciliation was created in the 1970s to allow the U.S. Senate to pass certain types of legislation by a simple majority once every fiscal year. Most of the bills that go through reconciliation have been financial. The infrastructure bill is expected to be rolled into the $3.5 trillion budget. Both Morelle and Schumer are confident that the bill will make it through that process.
It's through the reconciliation that Schumer expects to fund the Reconnecting Communities part of the bill which was slashed from $20 billion in the spring to $1 billion in the current legislation. That portion is expected to fund projects like filling Rochester’s Inner Loop.
“It was reduced,” said Schumer. "The Reconnecting Communities (bill) is very important. It was reduced but we intend to get much more of it, we hope to get much more of it, in the reconciliation bill.”