Majority of New York City's bridges are functionally obsolete

The report, released Tuesday, found that 12.8 percent of the 8,834 locally owned bridges in the state are deficient, with deficient bridges found in every county.

While New York City led the state in the number of bridges needing repairs, Seneca (34.6 percent), Cayuga (27.6 percent), and Hamilton (23.8 percent) had the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges. Capital Region counties fall across the spectrum, from 19.6 percent deficient in Schoharie County (8th-highest in the state) to 7.7 percent deficient in Saratoga County (48th-highest in the state).

Local bridges are more likely to be deficient that state-owned bridges.

Municipalities are generally responsible for the costs of their locally owned bridges, however, they generally receive assistance from the state and federal governments. Jefferson County isn't too far behind at 15 percent. In 2002, 16.7 percent of local bridges were considered deficient.

The report estimates the Mid-Hudson region is in need of $1.3 billion in bridge fix projects, with $825.4 million of those projects dealing with bridges owned by counties, $243.1 million owned by towns and $100.6 million owned by cities.

DiNapoli's report also found that 76 percent of the city's spans fail to meet design standards for the traffic on them, he said. "We used to use federal aid to pay for the work, but that has since dried up".

St. Lawrence County Highway Director Donald R. Chambers said that between CHIPS funding and federal aid, the county has been able to take on about five bridge restoration projects per year for the last few years. "We do need to make additional investments in our infrastructure". In a survey of local government officials throughout the state, 86 percent said that fiscal stress affects infrastructure repairs, and 80 percent said that infrastructure disrepair contributes to economic decline.

"Another ten million would probably be very helpful", he added.

With a mix of adequate state and federal assistance, Mr. Lawrence said the county can take on up to 10 bridge and culvert rehabilitation projects per year.

Vanessa Coleman