Infrastructure in NYS: The report is out & the grades are bad

The report is damning and it reveals what neglect has gotten New York State to this point. When New York State released their annual bridge data at the end of August, it would have been hard to believe that bridges were the only area experiencing neglect when it came to New York’s infrastructure. Bridges are typically the first thing that come to mind, ever since the disaster in Minneapolis, which resulted in the I-35 bridge collapse. Our struggles with infrastructure here in New York though extend far beyond bridges, as water treatment facilities, parks, roadways, and much more require urgent attention to maintain even the status quo. New York State received an overall C- grade for its infrastructure from top to bottom. The state as a whole received a grade no better than B- in any of the nine categories, and seven of the nine category grades received a C-grade or worse. Even in our beautiful Finger Lakes Region, finding roads in significant disrepair is common. Also increasingly evident is the state of disrepair that our bridges are in, as annual bridge reports released by New York State reveal just how poorly maintained some of our bridges still are today. It has become alarmingly clear that something has to be done. Even locally, the most recent report has shown that 27 bridges in Seneca County alone are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. This accounts for 45.7% of all bridges in Seneca County. However, defining structurally deficient, or functionally obsolete is something a little more complicated. Here is how the two are defined under the standards used by those grading our bridges. This actually gives us the opportunity to look at the numbers a little more closely with regard to our bridge conditions locally. Again, neither of these definitions mean they will collapse this week, or next, but rather just remind us that if we want them to remain functional for daily traffic as time goes on — a serious investment is going to be required. An interesting takeaway from the definitions above, as well as the overall ratings that were given to the bridges in Seneca County is that only one bridge in the entire county earned a rating of at least 7.0. The Boardman Creek bridge in Covert is actually, in terms of the numbers, the safest bridge in the county. 42 of the 59 bridges in Seneca County scored less than a 6.0 on the rating system used to determine the health of bridges, which means that at least 71% of bridges are scoring on the lower end of the scale. The fact that no bridge could push beyond 7.0 on the scale, also says a lot about the overall investment and success — or lackthereof success — in terms of making these bridge projects a priority. The bridge which scored worst in Seneca County was the Locust Street Bridge in Waterloo. While this wasn’t a surprise, it scored a 2.92 on the scale, which was the lowest by a somewhat small margin. A truss bridge on NY 74 in Essex County A complete listing of the bridge data for Seneca County can be found here. Bridges are not the only concern in Seneca County, though, as this report and others have clearly indicated needs across the state in water treatment, road safety, and much more. Some local notes of interest from the report was the takeaway that overall, New Yorkers are underpaying for the water they consume.

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