Tompkins County Transportation Planner Says Federal Government Isn’t Doing Enough

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council held an information session about the  five-year draft plan for surface transportation improvements.

The plan is for 2020-2024 and the proposed projects will cost about $38 million of federal and local funds for 17 new projects for repairs and improvements to roads, bridges and safety.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Construction amidst pedestrian, bus, bike and car traffic in Ithaca, New York. April 9, 2019 (WSKG Public Radio/Celia Clarke)

Fernando de Aragon is director of the Tompkins County Transportation Council which put together the draft plan.

There is a limit to what the county is allowed to do with federal funds.

“These monies,” he said, “are being used to maintain the infrastructure we have which is very valid, very fundamental.

“[It’s for] projects on larger roads. So this is not money that’s used to necessarily fill in potholes. This is more to rebuild or reconstruct roads or to do larger paving projects.”

De Aragon said there are two big projects coming up. One is the complete resurfacing of highway 13 which runs across the city of Ithaca and the other is work on state highway 34.

He explained that there is less federal money now than when he first started working at the Council.

“So, here we are 20 years later,” he said, “we have about a third less money, with more people and as much demand as every and it’s a problem.”

de Aragon said he would like the federal government do more than just fund maintenance because it is not enough to keep up with the way communities are changing.

The Council is taking public feedback until April 15.