National Bridge Report Underscores NY’s Infrastructure Crisis

Albany elected officials say they’ve wrapped up a budget deal ahead of schedule, a major accomplishment that will hopefully move the state closer to fiscal health. But they’ll have no time to rest as the state’s infrastructure crisis comes ever closer. New York has less than a year until it essentially runs out of money for transit projects, and its transportation needs are great, as underscored by a new report from Transportation for America that focuses on the woeful condition of the state’s bridges.

According to T4America’s analysis, the structurally deficient bridge with the highest traffic volume in the state is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Operated by MTA Bridges & Tunnels, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge sees an average of 169,791 motorists a day. One out of 8 bridges motorists cross each day is deteriorating to some degree, and 41.4% of NY bridges are already over 50 years old (most bridges are designed to last only 50 years, the report says).

New York is currently facing a transportation funding shortfall for both the MTA and NYSDOT transportation programs across the state. The MTA faces a $10 billion shortfall in a $25 billion capital program that is – as Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign puts it – “more hole than plan.” Meanwhile, NYSDOT has a 2 year, $7 billion capital program which the agency has said is “not sufficient to maintain existing levels of statewide bridge and pavement conditions.” New York also recently received its worst grade ever from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

In November 2010, Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch released a report which found that the state would need to come up with another $1.3 billion a year in dedicated revenue to support both the MTA and NYSDOT capital plans to bring the Empire State’s transportation assets back to a state of good repair.

Transportation for America’s report, “The Fix We’re In for,” provides a state-by-state analysis of bridge conditions for all 50 states and Washington D.C.  The report, based on recent data from the Federal Highway Administration, is a sobering reminder of the large, growing and dangerous backlog of deficient bridges that need repair and maintenance work to stay open and safe.

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