By DR. ALISON PREMO BLACK
ARTBA CHIEF ECONOMIST
More than 1,990 bridges in New York, or 11.4 percent of the state’s inventory, are “structurally deficient,” according to ARTBA’s third annual analysis of the latest U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) National Bridge Inventory database.
The 2015 figure of 1,990 bridges is down from 2,012 in 2014. New York ranks 11th in the nation in terms of the number of structurally deficient bridges and 17th when considering structurally deficient bridges as a percent of total inventory. Nationwide, an average of 9.6 percent of all bridges are structurally deficient.
There are nearly 59,000 bridges in the U.S. that are structurally deficient. On the positive side, about 7,200 bridges classified as structurally deficient in 2014 were repaired, replaced, rebuilt or removed from the 2015 inventory. But 4,625 bridges were newly classified as structurally deficient, based on their most recent inspection. The net effect is a slow national reduction in the overall number of structurally deficient structures. But at this pace, it would take 21 years to clear the backlog of needed repairs.
Age and weather are two factors that can have a significant impact on bridge conditions from state to state. In New York, the average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 69 years old, or 3 years older than the national average. A bridge that is not deficient is an average of 39 years old in the U.S. and 41 years old in New York.
The new five-year federal highway and transit law enacted late last year provides $8.9 billion for New York surface transportation investments. The federal aid program has accounted for an average of 55 percent of New York DOT’s capital outlays on highway and bridge construction, planning and design and right of way purchases. Federal funds—largely supported through the federal motor fuels tax—have supported over $17.5 billion in capital improvements on 3,481 bridge projects in New York between 2005 and 2014.
For a look at ARTBA’s national and state-specific data, please visit: www.artbabridgereport.org.