By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — Is your car’s front end alignment out of whack after hitting one too many potholes? Does that bridge you drive over regularly creak more than it once did?
For the past five years, inflation has chewed into the annual assistance that county highway and public works departments rely on every year from state government to help them maintain their network of roads and bridges.
But this week, for the first time since 2008, county officials learned Albany is finally sweetening the pot for those repair projects — to the tune of $75 million statewide.
Locally, the added funding from the program known as CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) represents what county officials see as a much needed shot in the arm for high-priority paving and repair projects.
“This is wonderful news,” said Otsego County Highway Superintendent Ron Tiderencel. “It’ll be great for our infrastructure and great for business. It will definitely help us.”
The boost in CHIPS funding in the state fiscal year that begins next Monday translates into a healthy scooping of cash for local counties.
According to state officials, Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties will all see CHIP increases of more than 20 percent.
For Delaware County, the road repair assistance increase amounts to more than $1.1 million.
Wayne Reynolds, Delaware County’s public works commissioner, said the infusion of new funding — bringing the total CHIPS assistance to his county to more than $6 million for the year ahead, comes at a time when he’d like to tackle several bridge repair projects.
“What has been eating us alive has been the inflation for all the construction materials,” he said, noting that the cost of all fossil fuel-related products, not just asphalt, has soared.
Reynolds said among his priorities are repairing bridges on county roads running through Fishs Eddy, a hamlet in Hancock, and Colchester.
In Otsego County, Tiderencel said one of his top priorities now is repairing the county-owned bridge on Route 11C near the county Meadows office complex. The bridge has been closed since last week. It was damaged when a tractor trailer — too tall for what the span can accommodate — rammed it.
Depending on how the county’s insurance deals with the mishap, Tiderencel said he may have to channel CHIPS money to that project. The bridge has been closed since the accident.
CHIPS funding for Otsego County is due to increase by $1.3 million this year, bringing the total assistance through the program to $6.5 million.
Schoharie County is slated to receive an additional $718,000 in the year ahead, putting its total package at $3.7 million.
State officials say Chenango County’s increase in assistance will come to $989,000.