New York’s Infrastructure Earns 'C' Grade on ASCE Report Card

New York
A busy street in New York City. Each motorist pays $625 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. (dhdezvalle/Getty Images)

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New York received an overall “C” grade for the condition of its infrastructure in the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The infrastructure report cards for states analyze categories including roads, bridges, rail, ports, aviation, dams and transit. The yearlong process involves volunteers and is generally conducted in four-year cycles, Kevin Longley, ASCE spokesman, told Transport Topics.

This year, Alabama, Alaska and Illinois each earned a “C-" due to the mediocre conditions of state infrastructure that are in need of attention, while Minnesota ranked slightly better with a “C”.

“New York has taken recent steps to improve its infrastructure with record levels of funding, especially for transportation systems. However, these improvements are short-lived and will need to be expanded to address future needs,” noted ASCE’s N.Y. section.

ASCE found that in New York, 27% of its network of 240,000 lane miles of roads is in poor condition, contributing to its “D+” at-risk grade in the category. Each motorist pays $625 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.

“Deferred maintenance has resulted in rough roads, congestion and safety deficiencies — with New Yorkers footing the bill. While 55% of New York’s major highways are rated in excellent or good condition, the remaining nearly half are considered to be in poor or fair condition,” ASCE reported.

New York Report Card by Transport Topics on Scribd

Above the 7.5% national average, New York has almost 10% of its 17,500 road and highway bridges (transporting 176 million vehicles daily) deemed in poor condition, earning a “C-".

Forcing freight trucks to find time-consuming detours, 637 bridges are posted for load restrictions, which negatively impacts local and regional economies.

Although New York will receive $11.6 billion for federal aid highway programs and $1.9 billion for bridge replacement and repairs from the bipartisan infrastructure law, these federal dollars are only for five years and “fall short of the total need,” ASCE noted.

The biggest threat to New York’s roads and bridges is uncertain federal funding that now pays for more than 40% of state department of transportation’s capital program and 56% of its on/off-system construction.

“As the urgency to make infrastructure more equitable persists, commuting patterns shift and climate change leads to increasingly severe weather, New York’s transportation systems need reliable funding sources to adapt with evolving needs,” ASCE stated.

Among the busiest in the nation, New York’s ports received a “C+” grade, with most dredged from 25-foot to 50-foot depths and able to handle large vessels. Ports were found to have adequate highway and on-dock rail access.

“Most ports are in the process of adding additional capacity. Wharf conditions range widely, from good to poor. However, aging infrastructure and limited funding represent challenges that will need to be overcome,” ASCE stated, adding there are critical needs for electrical facilities and control rooms to minimize impacts from rising water levels.

It noted that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey identified a $20 billion need to replace mission-critical wharf structures.

ASCE also found that New York has 424 high hazard dams and has experienced 1,528 power outages from 2008 to 2017.

With 7,400 ASCE members and other civil engineers in New York, the organization noted that engineers are now designing infrastructure systems to have longer lifespans of 75 to 100 years, but other work is required.

“Policy changes are needed that allow for the testing of new materials, utilization of new construction techniques and broader adoption of alternative project delivery methods, including design-build,” ASCE contended.

The next state infrastructure report card is expected to be released later this year for Virginia, Longley said.

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