One-third of N.Y.’s roads, bridges in poor shape: transportation research group

More than one-third of New York’s bridges and roads are in poor condition and, without additional federal funding that may run dry this May, the situation will only worsen for New York’s drivers, according to a report by TRIP, a Washington DC-based not-for-profit transportation and research group.

Rocky Moretti, TRIP’s director of policy and research, said in an interview on Friday that the current state of New York’s roads and bridges are reaching critical mass.

“On a scale of one to ten we’re at a nine,” Moretti said. “We’ve got a warning light on the dashboard.”

According to the report, 37 percent of major locally- and state-maintained roads in New York are in poor condition, an additional 43 percent of the state’s roads have pavements in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 20 percent are in good condition.

Local and state governments, responsible for bridge and road repairs, have fallen behind in upkeep and maintenance and that, in turn, is costing drivers money, Moretti said. Money to the tune of $6.3 billion, annually, the report stated, in extra vehicle operating costs.

“Cars are getting beaten up due to poor road conditions,” Moretti said. “And that’s money right out of their [drivers] pockets.”

States and municipalities lose $12 in economic growth for every dollar not invested in infrastructure repairs, according to the report.

“And, in turn, every dollar invested in road and bridge repairs equates to twelve dollars in economic growth,” Moretti said.

That projected growth could be directly affected based on whether the U.S. Department of Transportation reauthorizes its funding for surface transportation programs through a program called MAP-21. Those monies, Moretti said, are due to expire in May. If Congress doesn’t act, that will place state and local municipalities in dire straits.

“Nationwide, the fed funds approximately 25 percent of overall road, bridge, and public transit funding, leaving state and municipal governments to pick up the remaining 75 percent,” Moretti said.

Many states and local governments have been forced to postpone or withdraw future construction projects due to the possible lack of funding.

Not only do state and local municipalities need the funding in the first place, they actually need more than has been given by the federal government in prior years.

“Federal funding for roads and bridges has remained even over the last several years,” Moretti said. “The debate in Congress is now how much might be given in the future.”

Bridge and road improvements need to rise to $120 billion from $88 billion nationwide, the report said.

“Without additional transportation funds, the state’s pavement and bridge conditions will continue to decline,” Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said in a written statement. “Needed safety improvements will not be made, congestion will worsen, and the state will lose out on opportunities for economic growth.”