Audit finds Saratoga County has been consistent in bridge maintenance

Saturday, August 3, 2013
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— A new state audit of Saratoga County’s bridge maintenance and repair program has found the county has been consistent over time in maintaining its bridges.

The county has a written plan for bridge maintenance and repairs, maintained a consist average rating for its bridges between 2002 and 2011, and responded appropriately to all bridge condition warnings, the audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found.

The county spent between $154,000 and $366,000 per year on bridges between 2002 and 2011, often using that money as a local share for projects that also received federal and state funding.

“It’s a county priority because it is a safety issue,” said Public Works Commissioner Keith Manz said Wednesday, after the audit was released.

The county owns about 185 bridges, and each is given a condition rating between 1 and 7 by the state, based on inspections. Anything below 5 is considered “deficient.”

During the audited period, the average condition rating varied between 5.7 and 6.4, according to the audit, though between 8 percent and 10 percent of those inspected each year were rated “deficient.”

State inspections in those years resulted in 95 safety warning “flags” being placed on bridges, and the audit found all were addressed within the required time frame.

“If they get flagged we immediately take remedial action to get the flag off, and then we put it on the program for a permanent solution,” Manz said.

The only recommendation from the comptroller was that maintenance costs be tracked by individual bridge, instead of all bridge maintenance costs being lumped together. Manz said the change has already been made.

DiNapoli also released audits of the bridge programs in a number of other counties, and found that some counties don’t have a long-term plan, and others have plans but they aren’t formally approved by the county legislatures.

The report noted that Saratoga County has a five-year bridge plan that is updated every year, and that the findings of Department of Transportation inspections are factored into the decision-making.

“Due to the high costs of materials and limited financial flexibility, it is important that the county have a plan for both maintaining and repairing bridges,” the audit stated.

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