A new report from released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli estimates that bridges in New York need $27.4 billion in repairs.
Although the cost estimate is very large, the report found the number of “structurally deficient” locally-owned bridges has declined in recent years.
Local governments, mostly counties, own 8,834 out of 17,462 bridges in the state. The report found local bridges are more likely to be structurally deficient than state-owned bridges (12.8 percent compared to 9 percent).
“Structurally deficient” bridges that remain open are considered safe to drive on, but may have load-bearing elements in poor condition or are prone to repeated flooding.
The overall percentage of structurally deficient local bridges declined from 16.7 percent to 12.8 percent from 2002 to 2016, while the state’s percentage was relatively flat at around 9 percent.
Town-owned bridges are more likely to be structurally deficient (18.4 percent) than other local bridges. The highest number of structurally deficient local bridges are located in New York City (86), followed by the counties of Erie (52), Ulster (46) and Steuben (40). The counties with the highest percentage of structurally deficient local bridges are Seneca (34.6 percent), Cayuga (27.6 percent) and Hamilton (23.8 percent).
The total cost of repairs to all 17,462 highway bridges in the state was estimated at $75.4 billion in 2016 by a federal agency. For local bridges, those in New York City have the highest estimated repair costs at $20.4 billion.
Municipalities are generally responsible for the costs of their locally owned bridges, however, they generally receive assistance from the state and federal governments.