Comptroller: 40 percent of LI bridges are 'functionally obsolete'

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Aging bridges owned by local governments in NY are in need of costly repairs, according to a new report.

The analysis found that almost 13 percent of all locally owned bridges are considered structurally deficient.

With bridges in New York City subtracted from the total, the estimated cost of repairing county-owned bridges would be $7 billion.

Counties with the highest percentage of structurally deficient local bridges were three small counties: Seneca at 35 percent, Cayuga at 28 percent and Hamilton at 24 percent.

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Long Island was only behind New York City, which has 75 percent of its bridges listed as functionally obsolete. In many cases, the federal government has been willing to pay 80 percent of the cost, and the state another 15 percent.

In Erie County, there are 52 bridges owned by various municipalities that are considered structurally deficient.

The worst were town-owned bridges, with 18 percent of them to be structurally deficient.

"Local communities are facing a big price tag for maintaining and repairing bridges", DiNapoli said.

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Still, the number of bridges in the category has dropped from 17 percent since 2002, the report said. "It does not mean, for example, that the bridge is unsafe", said Gabe Deyo, deputy comptroller for the Division of Local Government and School Accountability.

Structurally deficient bridges are safe to travel, but DiNapoli said they may have load elements that are in poor condition or be prone to repeated flooding. "These structures are aging and the cost of repairs will likely increase over time".

"While the state has taken steps to make funds for repairs available, the assistance of the federal government has also been critical".

The state Department of Transportation has called for immediate repairs to the North Division Street bridge in Auburn.

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