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ASCE Launches Report Card with Recommendations for Improvement

August 11, 2022

Last month, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) New York State Council released the 2022 Report Card for New York’s Infrastructure. The purpose of ASCE’s Report Card is to inform the public and decision makers about the current state of our infrastructure in a concise format, and to provide recommendations to raise the grade.

The report analyzes New York’s infrastructure in 11 categories including roads, bridges, drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, and others. Each category is graded on a scale of A to F based on eight criteria: Capacity, Condition, Operation & Maintenance, Public Safety, Funding, Future Need, Resilience, and Innovation. Overall, New York earned a C, a slight improvement compared to the state’s C- in ASCE’s 2015 report.

Below are some key findings from select categories of infrastructure:

  • Roads (D+): More than 85% of the total centerline mileage in NY is maintained by local municipalities, however, there is no comprehensive data on the condition of local roads and the most recent statewide needs assessment for local roads was completed in 2013. Overall, given the short term funding outlook from Federal and State sources, and positive trends in safety and resilience, ASCE issued a slightly improved grade for NY’s roadway network compared to 2015. However, a funding gap still exists to bring the system to a state of good repair. In addition to funding, innovative project delivery, more collaboration between agencies, and workforce development initiatives are necessary to raise the grade.
  • Bridges (C-): NYS has the 13th largest bridge inventory in the nation. 10% of NYS bridges are in poor condition, which is above the national average of 7%. Over 600 bridges are load posted, which impacts the local economy and quality of life for residents due slow traffic and/or long detours. NYS has made strides in expanding its bridge program and implementing new funding for bridges, such as the BridgeNY program, however, the high amount of funding requests for those existing programs demonstrate that a large funding gap remains. Additionally, policy changes are needed that allow for the testing of new materials, utilization of new construction techniques, and broader adoption of alternative project delivery methods, including design-build.
  • Drinking Water (C-): The overall condition of drinking water infrastructure is fair. Many of the 9,000+ drinking water systems across the state have far exceeded their useful service life, including in-service transmission and distribution mains from the 1800s that still exist. To improve the drinking water infrastructure, a series of recommendations include: raising awareness for the true cost of water, increasing funding opportunities for water main replacements, and implementing an Engineering Planning Grant (EPG) program through NYSEFC DWSRF Program.
  • Wastewater (D+): Of the 35,000 miles of sewers in NYS, approximately 40% are more than 60 years old and about 10% were built before 1925. These aging infrastructure systems lead to increased infiltration / inflow and equipment failures. Since 1990, $18.2B has been pumped into wastewater infrastructures. However, almost $380B has to be invested over the next 20 years in order to meet increasing demand and current water quality standards
  • Solid Waste (B-): Solid Waste was among the highest graded categories of infrastructure. There are 53 lined landfills in the state and 16 to 25 years of excess capacity. New Yorkers generate about 5.12 pounds of MSW per person per day, a rate 4% higher than the national average of 4.9 pounds per person per day. Continued efforts are required to further reduce, reuse, and recycle materials before they become waste products. Since 2018, recycling rates have leveled off or even decreased slightly. Efforts to raise the grade should focus on expanding waste diversion, increasing recycling markets and technologies considering the China National Sword policy, and preventing and managing toxics and emerging contaminants in the waste stream.
  • Public Parks (B-): Parks are another category rated in Good condition. More than half of NY residents participate in some form of non-motorized recreation. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of NY’s parks and trails, as the public’s behavior, lifestyles, and work habits led to an increased dependency on parks. The NY Parks 2020 initiative resulted in a renewal of many State Parks, trails, and campgrounds between 2010 and 2020. Notably, the Empire State Trail was completed in December 2020. A similar emphasis on improving and maintaining parks will be necessary to keep NY’s parks in good condition.

Development of the report involved over 70 engineers from the public and private sectors who live and work in New York. Among those volunteers were B&L’s Bill Finch, Abbas Kazan, and Hans Arnold, who contributed their expertise to researching and co-authoring three separate chapters (roads, bridges, and solid waste). Bill and Abbas currently serve as President and President-Elect of ASCE’s Syracuse Section, and also organized a local press conference to announce the release at the City of Syracuse Water Department, alongside local and regional policymakers and agency officials. B&L encourages and supports staff involvement in professional societies. We are proud to take an active role in advancing our professions and volunteering in the communities in which we live and work.

Similar report cards have been released in many other states B&L is located in. See the full list below:

Click here to view the full Report Card for New York’s Infrastructure.


This article is from members of the Transportation Practice Area.

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