WASHINGTON - Long Island officials would be able to tap into now-restricted federal funds to help pay for repairs and updates to local and state bridges under a measure that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Tuesday said she will introduce in Congress.
That money could help officials afford to address the 18 structurally deficient and 426 functionally obsolete bridges that state inspections found among the 688 locally owned bridges on Long Island.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she will propose an amendment to the transportation reauthorization bill in committee to allow local bridge work to be paid for by the $21.9 billion National Highway Performance Program, which is now limited to funding only projects connected to the federal highway system.
"My amendment will finally give states the flexibility to spend federal transportation dollars where they're needed most, including thousands of locally owned bridges across the state," Gillibrand said in a telephone news conference.
Of the state's 17,400 bridges, 2,016 are structurally deficient, meaning they need repairs, or have inadequate load capacity or a tendency to flood, according to the New York State Department of Transportation.
Another 4,735 are functionally obsolete, meaning they can't meet standards for their traffic volume because of narrow lanes, no shoulders or low clearances, the department said.
Any bridges deemed unsafe are closed, the state said.
Long Island has many bridges built more than 50 years ago that the state deems structurally deficient or functionally obsolete: 181 of them in Nassau County and 118 in Suffolk County, state data show.
Structurally deficient bridges on Long Island include:
A 1925 bridge on Long Beach Road 1.3 miles northeast of Island Park.
An 1898 bridge on Bridge Road a half-mile northeast of Manhasset.
An 1895 bridge on Cranberry Hole Road 1.1 miles east of Amagansett.
A 1936 bridge on Middle Road over Brown's Creek at Sayville.
Gillibrand said she is confident her amendment will pass.
She said her measure was part of the transportation reauthorization bill last year. But Congress opted for a continuing resolution instead.