BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, is proposing a bill that he says would spend more than $1.2 trillion on roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Western New York — some of which, including the heavily traveled Skyway — are badly in need of repair.
Higgins spoke Monday beneath the Skyway, along Fuhrman Boulevard, which he said is an example of what he’s trying to do with this new bill.
Higgins said the most recent federal proposal includes just $41 billion for improvements to roads and bridges across the country.
He says that number is far too low, especially considering the numbers in Erie and Niagara counties alone.
In Western New York, there are 81 bridges in Erie County and 21 bridges in Niagara County that are considered structurally deficient, according to numbers provided by Higgins.
Higgins said there are 228 bridges in Erie County and 55 in Niagara County that are considered functionally obsolete.
Higgins said his bill includes a buy-American provision, which would guarantee prevailing wages, promotes the hiring of veterans and ensures a portion of the federal grants are directed toward women- and minority-owned businesses.
Higgins said the country has neglected its infrastructure for far too long, and has priorities elsewhere.
“While we’re spending tens of billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges in foreign countries, we’ve neglected the needs right here in WNY and America,” he said. “We have to do it at some point, we should do it now. Put people back to work. As we’ve said, Buffalo is a national model for unleashing the resources of the private sector.”
Higgins pointed to other success stories that have been completed with federal and private partnerships, including on Ohio Street in the city’s first ward, and projects along Niagara Street, which are nearly finished.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday the president is proposing a bill that would spent $200 billion taxpayer dollars to generate $1 trillion dollars in private investment for the nation’s infrastructure over the next 10 years.
In response to questions about that proposal, Higgins said he’s confident that whatever plan Congress approves, will be closer to what he’s proposing.