The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 12:21cat

New York City’s Infrastructure Needs $47 Billion in Repairs

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New York must spend $47 billion to fix its aging infrastructure New York must spend $47 billion to fix its aging infrastructure dormroomfund

The Center for an Urban Future released a report yesterday titled Caution Ahead: Overdue Investments For New York’s Aging Infrastructure.  The 68-page study estimates that New York needs to spend $47 billion over the next four to five years to improve its failing infrastructure to a state of good repair. The report states that while Superstorm Sandy brought attention and some much needed funding to certain parts of New York’s infrastructure, there are still many other infrastructure vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

The 1,000 miles of water mains in New York average 400 breaks each year. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who increased infrastructure spending throughout each of his three terms from 2002-2013, created PlaNYC in 2007 to address the city’s aging water mains. According to the plan, 80 miles of water mains were supposed to be replaced each year until the whole system had been replaced, but only 27 miles were replaced on average annually.

The current mayor Bill de Blasio assumed office in January of this year. There is not much hope that he will significantly increase spending on infrastructure improvements as he barely mentioned the topic during his campaign and short time in office. Although he has not yet announced his plan for dealing with the city’s decaying infrastructure, his new budget provides $3.3 billion less over four years for capital projects than his predecessor. According to Jonathan Bowles, executive director for an Urban Future, “There is a huge gap across the board between the backlog of the city’s capital needs and funding levels. The fiscal year 2014-2017 funding gap for the 18 city agencies, detailed in the Asset Information Management report, is $3.3 billion, while the capital backlog at CUNY is $2.5 billion, NYCHA $14 billion, the Port Authority roughly $3.9 billion and the New York City Transit division of the MTA, $10.5 billion. Capital needs across all these entities exceed committed funding by a staggering $34.2 billion."

The report provides several recommendations to address the New York’s infrastructure vulnerabilities. Mayor de Blasio is committed to creating more middle-income jobs to reduce the poverty rate in the city.  The report recommends creating a sizable public works program that would create many blue-collar jobs.  Another recommendation is to shift the spending focus from expanding the capacity of the current system to repairing aging assets. The report discusses creating new dedicated revenue sources to pay for the needed infrastructure projects rather than divert funds from other dedicated funding streams. The report, which can be found here, provides six pages of recommendations to take New York’s infrastructure into the 21st century. In addition to infrastructure, the report also focuses on schools, parks, homeless shelters, and health clinics. 

Sources: Crain's New York

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