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Conditions and Safety of New York’s Roads and Bridges

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, April 10th, 2015


Population, Travel and Economic Trends in New York

New York’s residents and businesses require a high level of personal and commercial mobility. Population increases and economic growth in the state have resulted in an increase in the demand for mobility as well as an increase in vehicle miles of travel (VMT). To foster quality of life and spur economic growth in New York, it will be critical that the state provide a safe and modern transportation system that can accommodate future growth in population, tourism, recreation and vehicle travel.

New York’s population grew to approximately 19.6 million residents in 2013, a nine percent increase since 1990. New York had 11,248,617 licensed drivers in 2012. From 1990 to 2013, New York’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 46 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

From 1990 to 2013, annual VMT in New York increased by 21 percent, from approximately 107 billion miles to 130 billion miles. Based on population and other lifestyle trends, TRIP estimates that travel on New York’s roads and highways will increase by another 10 percent by 2030.

Condition of New York’s Roads

The life cycle of New York’s roads is greatly affected by the state and local government’s ability to perform timely maintenance and upgrades to ensure that road and highway surfaces last as long as possible.

More than a third – 37 percent – of New York’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition. An additional 43 percent of the state’s major urban roads have pavements in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 20 percent are in good condition.

The following chart details the share of major roads and highways in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in each of New York’s largest urban areas.

Pavement failure is caused by a combination of traffic, moisture, climate, and other factors. Moisture often works its way into road surfaces and the materials that form the road’s foundation. Road surfaces at intersections are even more prone to deterioration because the slow-moving or standing loads occurring at these sites subject the pavement to higher levels of stress. It is critical that roads are fixed before they require major repairs because reconstructing roads costs approximately four to five times more than resurfacing them. As roads and highways continue to age, they will reach a point of deterioration where routine paving and maintenance will not be adequate to keep pavement surfaces in good condition and costly reconstruction of the roadway and its underlying surfaces will become necessary.

Repairing roads and highways while they are in good or fair condition greatly reduces long-term preservation costs because of the high cost of repairing roads in poor condition. Roads in good condition can be maintained by preventive maintenance, which costs approximately $85,000 per lane mile; roads in mediocre or fair condition require resurfacing, which costs approximately $575,000 per lane mile; and roads in poor condition require reconstruction to repair the surface and the base under the road, which costs approximately $1,625,000 per mile – 19 times higher than the cost of preventive maintenance.

Download full version (PDF): Conditions and Safety of New York’s Roads and Bridges

About TRIP
Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation. 

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