Local officials need to speak up, especially when they are concerned the state or federal government is not providing the area with the help it needs.
We were pleased to see officials in Fulton County government did not hesitate to address their concerns about the lack of proposed road and bridge projects in the county to the state Department of Transportation.
County Planning Director James Mraz told the Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee last month that DOT has made public its Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, or STIP, for 2014-17. He said STIP is a state listing of DOT projects it intends to use federal funds to pay for.
Mraz said DOT’s Utica-based Region 2 has five counties, including Fulton County. He said 30 of the 35 planned projects in the region are in Oneida and Herkimer counties. He said those two counties are to receive $119 million of the $126 million in work being planned for the region. Meanwhile, he said, the draft STIP only includes five projects totaling $6 million for Fulton, Montgomery and Madison counties combined.
Mraz said board Chairman William Waldron sent a letter to DOT expressing Fulton County’s concerns about a lack of federally funded projects compared to the other counties in Region 2. Copies of the letter were sent to state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, and state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport.
A DOT spokesman said the department was working on a response to the letter.
Fulton County needs all of the help it can get. While a letter may not get more projects for the county, officials need to make sure their concerns are addressed.
Considering the size of municipalities in the state, it may be easy for state officials to forget about the help Fulton County needs. Our elected officials must continue to protest any inequity they see from the state and federal governments. There are a number of projects eyed – such as turning the former Tryon Detention Center into a technology park and business incubator center – that could certainly use funds in the future.
Our elected officials must make sure their residents are treated fairly.