TRIP Report Details New York Roads, Bridges

Dec. 9, 2020

One in four major roads in the state of New York have pavement in poor condition, according to a new study released by TRIP. The report, “New York Transportation by the Numbers,” examines the condition, use, and safety of New York’s roads, highways, and bridges. The report includes regional breakdowns for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica urban areas as well as statewide.

The pavement data, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, was provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and based on data submitted annually by the New York Department of Transportation on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.

Statewide, 47 percent of New York’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. According to the report, pavements in poor condition provide a noticeable reduction in ride quality and often have visible signs of deterioration including potholes, cracking, or rutting, and frequently have deterioration in the pavement’s subbase, which will often require costly reconstruction to address. The chart below details pavement conditions on major urban roads in the state’s largest urban areas.

In the report, TRIP calculated the additional cost to motorists of driving on roads in poor, mediocre, or fair condition. These roads exhibit potholes, rutting, or rough surfaces that increase the cost to operate and maintain a vehicle. These additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional vehicle repair costs, increased fuel consumption, and increased tire wear. TRIP estimates that additional VOC borne by New York motorists as a result of deteriorated road conditions is $7.2 billion annually, an average of $588 per driver statewide.

One in 10 (1,745 of 17,540) of New York’s locally and state-maintained bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, according to the report. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. A bridge is deemed poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. Bridges that are poor/structurally deficient may be posted for lower weight limits or closed if their condition warrants such action.

“Infrastructure in our state is critical to the economy,” said New York State Assembly member John T. McDonald III in a prepared statement. “Investments in our public infrastructure create good jobs and make our roadways safer. This newest report from TRIP has highlighted the importance of the need for increased investment in our state’s aging roads and bridges.”

Congested roads cost New York State drivers $14.2 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel, according to the report. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $1,947 and as many as 92 hours per year sitting in congestion. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, vehicle travel in the state dropped by as much as 45 percent in April 2020 (as compared to vehicle travel during the same month the previous year), but rebounded to 10 percent below the previous year’s volume in September 2020.

The report noted that the efficiency and condition of the state’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of its economy. Annually, $1.3 trillion in goods are shipped to and from New York, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges.

The design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in New York supports approximately 319,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy, according to TRIP.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the federal, state, and local levels of government,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director, in a statement. “Without adequate funding, New York’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”

Source: TRIP