GOSHEN – A new report from a nonprofit group that researches and evaluates the conditions of the roads we travel on says 13 percent of the Hudson Valley’s bridges are in poor, structurally deficient condition.
Another 64 percent are in fair condition, while only 23 percent are in good condition.
At a news conference Tuesday at the Orange County Chamber of Commerce office, Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, associate director of research for the nonprofit, The Road Information Project (TRIP), said those structurally deficient bridges carry almost 2.6 million vehicles per day.
Her study included 2,551 bridges in Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester and Columbia counties – everything from overpasses and culverts 20 feet or longer, up to full-length bridges spanning rivers.
Kelly said the 329 rated structurally deficient are “safe for travel” now but will need repair or replacement soon.
“The (state) Department of Transportation does a tremendous job with the funds they have,” Kelly said. “But unless New York can increase available funding, bridges will continue to deteriorate and costs will continue to increase.”
Kelly said the Federal Highway Administration has estimated it would cost $3.6 billion to repair or replace all 1,757 New York bridges statewide currently rated poor or structurally deficient.
Kelly’s report was based on the latest inspection data available from the FHA, compiled in 2018. Every bridge is inspected at least once every two years.
Kelly said if bridges deteriorate to the point they must be closed to all traffic, or only be open to lower-weight vehicles, that can have an impact on everyone from emergency responders to school buses, commercial vehicles and farm equipment, who will all need to make longer trips to get where they need to go.
“Good infrastructure is also the cornerstone of bringing in good jobs,” said Mike Oates, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. “I hope this (report) leads to action, so we’re not at a competitive disadvantage with other states.”
New York ranks 12th among the 50 states, with 10 percent of its bridges in poor or structurally deficient condition.
But where will the money to fix them come from?
John Corlett, legislative committee chairman with AAA New York, said the federal gas tax is a primary source of funding that ends up in state hands for roads and bridges, but Congress hasn’t raised that tax in 23 years.
“It’s a constant uphill battle,” said John T. Cooney Jr., executive director of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester and the Hudson Valley. “Without increased funding, you lose the battle.”