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NY bridges need $27.4 billion in repairs: report

NEW YORK — Aging bridges owned by local governments in New York are in need of costly repairs, according to a new report.

Nearly 13 percent of bridges owned by local government entities are “structurally deficient,” State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli  found. They need an estimated $27.4 billion in repairs.

“Local communities are facing a big price tag for maintaining and repairing bridges,” DiNapoli said. “These structures are aging and the cost for repairs will likely only increase over time.”

New York City is home to the highest number of structurally deficient local bridges, DiNapoli found. There are 86.  The designation means they’re considered safe to drive on, but either have load-bearing elements in poor condition or are prone to repeated flooding.

The city also has the highest percentage of functionally obsolete bridges. Just under 76 percent of NYC locally owned bridges fail to meet current design standards for the amount of traffic carried. This could mean they have inadequate lane or shoulder widths, low clearances or low load-carrying capacity.

About 41 percent of locally owned bridges in Long Island are functionally obsolete.

Bridges in these areas are also difficult to improve because of their location in developed areas.

DiNapoli’s report notes the challenge of improving older infrastructure in developed areas, which have limited space to expand bridge structures to handle increased traffic flows or meet current design standards.

Local municipalities are generally responsible for the costs of the repairs, though they receive some assistance from the state and federal governments. Local bridges in New York City alone need about $20.4 billion in repairs.

“While the state has taken steps to make funds for repairs available, the assistance of the federal government has also been critical,” DiNapoli said. “Difficult decisions lie ahead, but these infrastructure needs must be addressed.”