A NY State of Infrastructure is Not a Good Place to Be

By Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State

Fellow ATM Coalition member the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in conjunction with its New York Council, recently released the inaugural 2015 Report Card for New York’s Infrastructure and the news was not good for the Empire state.

New York received an overall grade of “C-” across all nine assessed categories; the state’s roads and bridges are most in need of repair, receiving grades of “D-” and “D+” respectively, because of both their state of deterioration and in adequate funding to improve conditions. As the father of a two year old, I sure hope he never brings home a report card like that.

The report evaluated all kinds of infrastructure, from airports to bridges, roads, and water and wastewater facilities and the findings were particularly bleak for those areas that could be addressed through the yet-to-be-passed transportation reauthorization bill:

  • Of New York’s more than 17,000 bridges, over 50% are over 75 years old (nationally, the average age of a bridge is 42 years).
  • The average New York City area commuter (which is half the state’s population) wastes 53 hours every year sitting in traffic.
  • Poor road conditions and traffic congestion cost motorists an average of $694 per New York City driver, or a total of $6.3 billion statewide.

Governor Cuomo himself has noted that some 60% of our roads and 6,000 of our bridges are in need of repair. The state’s public transit system – also chronically underfunded as a result of Congress’ inaction on surface transportation legislation, also earned just a “C-”. There’s just no slack for New York’s infrastructure – as New York Report Card Committee Chair Bud Griffis, P.E., Ph.D. said during the release of the report, “As one of the oldest cities in the country, New York has aging infrastructure that serves a constantly growing population. We are home to iconic infrastructure such as the Brooklyn Bridge, but the entire network of infrastructure matters—not just the recognizable landmarks.”

The state’s public infrastructure is not only a drain on residents’ wallets – it’s also a drag on the state’s economy. Our state struggles to remain competitive and continues to lead the nation in out-migration. The bottom line is that New York can’t be open for business if its roads and bridges are closed.

New York’s leaders have sought to implement policies that will help address the state’s tremendous needs, however it’s nearly impossible for the state to really make a dent in the issue without complementary Congressional action, considering that 44% of New York’s transportation funding historically comes from the federal government.

We’re still waiting on the U.S House to acknowledge this bad and still worsening situation with action that finally – for the long-term – makes a difference for New York and all of America. Our communities and our economy desperately need both Washington and Albany to focus on this crisis and make the tough but necessary choices required to invest in and repair our infrastructure.

Check out the Report Card for New York’s infrastructure, the national Infrastructure Report Card, and state data at InfrastructureReportCard.org.

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