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N.Y. Spends More on Aging Infrastructure

Compared to many other states, New York is making very substantial investments to ensure a safe and reliable transportation infrastructure.

Mon March 09, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Michael Virtanen - ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York has steadily increased spending on highways and bridges over the past decade, including more federal funds in the past five years while that support lagged in most states, according to federal data analyzed by The Associated Press.

Total state spending on its aging highway system rose from $6.6 billion in 2003 to $8.5 billion in 2013. That includes construction, maintenance, administration, bond payments, grants to municipalities, law enforcement and safety.

That’s up 29 percent over the decade, though only 2 percent when adjusting for inflation. Meanwhile, Federal Highway Trust Fund outlays to New York rose from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. That aid was up 21 percent for the decade and also up 11 percent the last five years compared with an overall national drop of 7.3 percent.

New York was one of only two states that saw an increase in inflation-adjusted federal highway money during that span.

Now the Cuomo administration proposes boosting infrastructure spending in the fiscal year that starts April 1. Budget plans include a $3.5 billion Transportation Department capital program and using $1.285 billion from windfall bank settlements for Thruway investments, including the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

“Compared to many other states, New York is making very substantial investments to ensure a safe and reliable transportation infrastructure,’’ Budget Division spokesman Morris Peters said. Erecting twin spans to replace the Tappan Zee, opened in 1955, is currently the largest infrastructure project in the country, he said.

According to state officials, the existing 3 mi. (4.8 km) bridge, 25 mi. north of midtown Manhattan, carries about 138,000 vehicles daily over the Hudson River. The new $3.9 billion bridge is scheduled for completion in 2018. Its funding includes a $1.6 billion federal loan.

The administration’s budget proposal for the coming year contains $478 million for local highway and bridge projects, continuing the current funding level. A proposed $750 million five-year local bridge initiative is intended to accelerate fixing or replacing about 100 bridges.

In a report last September, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said municipalities outside New York City spent $927 million on roads and bridges in 2012, a decrease of $49 million or 5 percent from two years earlier. He cited a 2013 update of a study done on behalf of state highway superintendents projecting needs would total about $35 billion through 2030, requiring average annual municipal spending of about $2.3 billion.

The American Society of Civil Engineers said in a 2013 report that 2,078 of the 17,442 bridges in New York, or almost 12 percent, were considered “structurally deficient’’ and that 23 percent of the state’s 16,311 miles of major roads were in “poor condition.’’

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