Report: Face-lift needed for NYC roads, bridges, subways

Crews work on a broken water main on Crews work on a broken water main on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street in Manhattan on Jan. 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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New York is a growing and aging city whose infrastructure needs $47 billion to replace and repair its fraying parts, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future.

The report, Caution Ahead, warns that the city's battered streets, bridges in need of repair, obsolete subway signal systems and cramped stations could harm New York's economy and quality of life.

There is already a $34.2 billion gap in funding over the next five years at the various agencies that manage the city's infrastructure. The city Department of Environmental Protection is excluded from the estimate.

"We're not going to be able to cover our full state of good repair needs," report author Adam Forman said. "But we should be prioritizing across agencies what is most critical toward achieving our economic development goals, quality of life goals."

Denise Richardson, executive director of the General Contractors Association, called the report a "very sobering overview" of the city's infrastructure, which must be able to handle the growth of the city's population and plans to build taller, denser buildings.

"Our existing infrastructure cannot last the long term to support higher and greater density development," Richardson said.

The city's roads and bridges take a nonstop pounding from vehicles.

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Of the city's 1,445 bridges -- including elevated expressways such as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway -- 41 percent are more than 64 years old, with 165 of them older than a century. There are 47 bridges in need of repair with parts that have no redundant support, which Forman said makes them "more prone" to failure.

Half of city highways, meanwhile, were in fair or poor condition in 2012, according to the report.

The state transportation commissioner has said almost half of New York's funding for highways and bridges is dependent on federal financing, which Congress has yet to hash out this year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive budget provides $3.4 billion for transportation infrastructure, with $225 million to accelerate road and bridge work in the state.

A third of streets are in fair or poor condition. Meanwhile, 1,000 miles of road lanes fall into disrepair each year.

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The report said that since 2000 there were only three years during which the city Department of Transportation was able to resurface 1,000 miles of street.

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