UTICA — Infrastructure has been a hot-button issue for years, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump talking about the need for plans and actions to improve roads, bridges and water.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri is sick of the talk; he wants to see the plans.
“The president’s been talking about an infrastructure plan, the governor’s talked about an infrastructure plan, it’s time that we start seeing what the plan is to address the infrastructure of our roads, bridges and our water pipes,” he said. “It’s not physically or financially possible to be able to have the wherewithal to do what we have to do with infrastructure. That’s something that they’ve been talking about, but I still haven’t seen it.”
He said the plan can’t hinge on the taxpayers’ backs, it needs to be funded another way.
In a letter to the New York Conference of Mayors earlier this month, Palmieri told the leadership he wants to see plans from Cuomo and Trump on how they plan to help cities throughout the country address failing infrastructure.
This isn’t the first time he’s been fired up about infrastructure: Palmieri said he has attended the NYCOM meetings and spoken about the importance of maintaining infrastructure before.
“Everybody talks (about) the same problem: the fact that there’s not enough dollars and cents to maintain our roads at this point,” Palmieri said. “The root of the problem is our infrastructure at the base, which is the concrete that has been there, is starting to fall through a little bit at this point.”
He said the city has been aggressive in filling potholes this year and expects to release its summer paving plan soon, but there is no way cities across the country, including Utica, can afford to fix all of the failing roads, bridges and water systems on their own.
Cities can’t afford to keep patching roads when they fall apart in such a short amount of time, he said, and the state and federal governments need to help out so cities aren’t facing financial destruction.
“Our roads that we’re doing at this point are only lasting up to eight years when we do the mill and fill. So it’s not a long-term fix," he said. "You go out and bond and if your bond is 15 years, you’re looking on the downside of it — you’re looking at, at some point, bankruptcy for any city.”