Senate Passes Bridge Reform Legislation

Andrew J Lanza

October 22, 2007

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.6516), to fix the State’s Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF) by directing more funding to bridge and road construction and repair.

The Bridge and Road Investment and Dedicated Fund Guaranteed Enforcement (BRIDGE) Reform Act will amend the State Finance Law to create a five-year phase-out (approximately 20% per year) of non-bridge and road expenses and prohibit these uses thereafter. The BRIDGE Reform Act aims to clean up the Dedicated Fund by removing DOT Snow and Ice Removal expenses totaling $563 million and DMV Operational expenses totaling $199 million so that this money can be used to fix roads and bridges.

The DHBTF was created in 1991 to pay for reconstruction, replacement, reconditioning and preservation of New York’s highways and bridges. Since then, millions of dollars have been siphoned away for other expenses. More than $750 million from the fund is spent annually on expenses not directly related to its original intent.

According to a December 2005 report by the State Comptroller’s office, more than half (55%) of the Dedicated Fund disbursements went toward capital projects in 1994-1995, but barely a quarter (28%) of disbursements went toward capital projects in 2004-2005.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.