New York State's locally owned bridges need $27.4 billion to repair aging infrastructure, according to the state's top fiscal officer.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report Tuesday showing that 12.8% of New York's 17,000 bridges owned by local governments are considered structurally deficient. Specific bridges weren't named, but DiNapoli noted that New York City had the highest number of structurally deficient local bridges at 86 followed by Erie County with 52. The percentage of troubled bridges was highest in Seneca County at 34.6%.

“Local communities are facing a big price tag for maintaining and repairing bridges,” DiNapoli said. “These structures are aging and the cost for repairs will likely only increase over time.”

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
“Many local governments understand the importance of long-term planning for their infrastructure needs but they will need help," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Bloomberg News

“Many local governments understand the importance of long-term planning for their infrastructure needs but they will need help," he said.

The overall percentage of structurally deficient local bridges has declined in the last five years after reaching 16.7% in 2012. Town-owned bridges are more likely to be structurally deficient than other locally-owned spans at 18.4%, according to the report.

DiNapoli emphasized that the federal government will need to play more of a role to help municipalities address bridge repairs beyond what the state provides. He noted that Federal Highway Administration grants can generally provide up to 80% of eligible costs for local bridge projects.

“Many local governments understand the importance of long-term planning for their infrastructure needs but they will need help,” said DiNapoli. “While the state has taken steps to make funds for repairs available, the assistance of the federal government has also been critical. Difficult decisions lie ahead, but these infrastructure needs must be addressed.”

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