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What you need to know for 12/12/2017

$27.4 billion needed for bridges, comptroller says

$27.4 billion needed for bridges, comptroller says

Report lists how local counties stack up
$27.4 billion needed for bridges, comptroller says
Photographer: Provided

CAPITAL REGION — Bridges owned by New York's local governments need an estimated $27.4 billion in repairs, according to a report by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

The report, released Tuesday, found that 12.8 percent of the 8,834 locally owned bridges in the state are deficient, with deficient bridges found in every county. Capital Region counties fall across the spectrum, from 19.6 percent deficient in Schoharie County (eighth-highest in the state) to 7.7 percent deficient in Saratoga County (48th-highest in the state).

That's an improvement from previous reports, with federal, state and local governments having invested significantly in bridges over the last 30 years, since the 1987 collapse of a state Thruway bridge in Montgomery County brought national attention to the issue. In 2002, 16.7 percent of local bridges were considered deficient. The figures used by DiNapoli came from the Federal Highway Administration.

Local bridges are more likely to be deficient than state-owned bridges. Nine percent of state-owned and maintained bridges are considered deficient.

Locally, Schenectady County has only two bridges out of 21 it owns listed as deficient — tied for the fewest among all counties in the state. Saratoga County has nine deficient bridges, or 7.7 percent of its total. Albany County has seven deficient bridges, or 8.4 percent.

At higher percentages, Schoharie County has 18 deficient bridges, or 19.6 percent; Fulton County has 11 deficient bridges, or 14.1 percent; Montgomery County has 12, or 10.8 percent of its total.

With bridges in New York City subtracted from the total, the estimated cost of repairing county-owned bridges would be $7 billion. In many cases, the federal government has been willing to pay 80 percent of the cost, and the state another 15 percent.

DiNapoli noted the report is coming out as questions surround the future of federal infrastructure funding.

"Local governments are facing a big price tag for maintaining and repairing local bridges," DiNapoli said in a news release. "These structures are aging and the cost of repairs will likely increase over time."

Structurally deficient bridges are safe to travel, but DiNapoli said they may have load elements that are in poor condition or be prone to repeated flooding.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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