Federal Infrastructure Bill Could Bring $13.5 Billion For Bridge Repairs, Jobs To Southern Tier

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) detailed parts of the federal infrastructure bill during a stop in Delaware County on Monday.

The latest iteration of the bill, known as the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, includes more than $13.5 billion to address the backlog of repairs to New York’s roadways and bridges.

According to a 2019 report from TRIP, a transportation research nonprofit, seven percent of bridges in the Binghamton area and 10 percent of bridges statewide are rated poor or structurally deficient

Schumer said the $1 trillion bill would create thousands of union jobs to complete federally-funded infrastructure projects, which could bring a younger workforce to aging rural communities.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) visited Sidney earlier this week to discuss parts of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would fund repairs to roads and bridges. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

“If you tell people you’ll get a good paying job in a nice area like this, they’ll come,” Schumer said in Sidney. “One of the reasons they don’t move in, or some young people move away, is that they think there aren’t enough good paying jobs here.”

The current iteration of the bill, which is awaiting confirmation in the House, includes money for workforce training.

David Marsh with Laborers Local 785 said the union has a robust membership throughout the Southern Tier, including 30 apprentices who joined this year alone.

“If this bill should pass, we’re gonna have to do an even better job of marketing the trades,” Marsh continued.

Marsh said the union will need a lot of new people to complete infrastructure projects funded by the bipartisan bill, which he stressed pay well.

According to Marsh, annual salaries for union laborers start between $35,000 and $40,000.

But John Redente, a grant administrator for the Village of Sidney, said there is not enough housing in the area to support new families.

“[The] problem is now we’re starting to see young people come in,” Redente said, “but there’s such a shortage of new houses that they may want to work here, but they may not want to live here.”

Sidney has an older housing stock, much of which FEMA bought out in the decade since flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

“The homes are gone so you just kind of have a sidewalk to nowhere, to the lonely house sitting at the corner now,” said Shelly Johnson-Bennett, Delaware County’s Planning Director, who oversees the buyout program. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

Redente said officials in the village are trying to make the community more attractive for families looking to move in. That has included opening a new community cultural center, where Schumer met with local leaders from Sidney and surrounding towns.

Housing is not addressed in the most recent infrastructure bill, but Schumer says it will be added in the next policy push.

In addition to money for road repairs, the bill includes $790,000 for the Sidney Municipal Airport and $790,000 for the Albert S. Nader Regional in Oneonta.

The bill also funnels more than $20 billion into projects involving drinking water, including efforts to replace lead service lines, as well as $65 billion for projects related to broadband.

If the infrastructure legislation passes, New York would also receive $175 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network over five years.