ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Communities around New York state will soon be eligible to apply for $250 million to help replace and repair local bridges.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding Thursday. Priority will be given to bridges with the greatest needs, or to spans that serve vital roles in the local community and its economy. The money may also be used on culverts.

Cuomo calls the money an investment in the state's economic competitiveness. He also noted that the projects will reduce local vulnerability to natural disasters by replacing older bridges and culverts with new structures better able to withstand floods.

Two years ago the state set aside $200 million for a similar round of grants. That funding paid for 125 bridge and culvert projects in 96 communities around New York.