New York Bridges
After Hurricane Sandy, FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding was made available to help pay for bridge repairs—scour remediation—throughout New York. “Scour” damage includes erosion and wear and tear from water flowing against foundations, abutments, piers and embankments. More than $518 million in HMGP funds has been obligated for the program which aims to increase the State’s resiliency, reduce hardship and mitigate the risks of loss and damage of future disasters.
There are 17,378 highway bridges in New York State. About 44 percent of the bridges in the state are owned by New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and about 50 percent are owned by municipalities, with the rest owned by State and local authorities (such as the State Thruway Authority), commissions (such as the Capital District State Park Commission), and railroads (such as CSX Corporation).
Based upon data submitted to the federal government in April 2012, about 12 percent of the highway bridges in New York State are classified, under the broad federal standards, as structurally deficient and about 27 percent are classified as functionally obsolete. Those classifications do not mean the bridges are unsafe; rather, that they would require repairs or modifications to restore their condition or improve their functionality. If a bridge is deemed unsafe, it is closed to traffic.
In 1988, in response to the 1987 collapse of the Thruway Bridge over the Schoharie Creek in Schoharie County, the State Legislature enacted the Graber Bill, which in addition to new inspection protocols required NYSDOT to develop a proactive approach to bridge safety.
New York identified bridges needing scour remediation and submitted applications for HMGP funding of these repairs. Two of the bridges required grant money for engineering and design work to be completed before actual construction can be funded. Proposed work on those bridges was reviewed by the Hazard and Performance Analysis group and the Environmental and Historic Preservation team.