Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Study Finds Many NYC Bridges Deficient or Obsolete

No surprises here. A new study has found that many New York City area bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. If you drive around here, you'd know this to be true.
The report classifies the Brooklyn Bridge as “structurally deficient,” meaning it requires more frequent monitoring, critical maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement. Some 106,392 cars cross the bridge per day, according to the report. The report says the Triboro Bridge is also “structurally deficient.”

The Manhattan Bridge is dubbed “functionally obsolete,” meaning that while it is not run down, it’s not the best plan for the 48,416 cars that cross it a day, on average. The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, which takes 120,284 cars a day on average, is also dubbed “functionally obsolete.” The same designation is slapped on the George Washington Bridge, which handles some 285,620 cars per day.

All in all in the New York metropolitan area, 9.8 percent of the bridges are considered deficient.
Bridges can be considered obsolete if they lack breakdown lanes, have lanes that are too narrow for current standards, or if they handle capacity far in excess of what they were originally designed for.

That would include everything from the Triborough (RFK) Bridge, which saw its approaches recently rebuilt, to the George Washington Bridge, and Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

It's why the Port Authority has to replace the Goethals Bridge, increase the height of the Bayonne Bridge, replace the helix into the Lincoln Tunnel and replace stringers on the GWB. It's why the approaches on the Brooklyn Bridge need to be replaced and key components replaced on that and other bridges.

All this costs money that the City, State and feds appear unwilling to spend. Deferred maintenance turns out to be far more costly since repairs that might have been caught early turn into far bigger problems down the road and require far more invasive and time-consuming repairs.

Transportation agencies and the state and local governments have to devote more effort to maintaining such infrastructure, and replace that which must be replaced.

To see whether bridges in your area are in adequate condition, check here. A caveat though: the information that drives that system may be out of date. For instance, a bridge over the Passaic River near my home was listed as structurally deficient but it has been replaced in the past two years. It was replaced since its last inspection. On the flip side, bridges that may have been adequate may have fallen into disrepair and are now deficient.

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