NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The United States Department of Transportation on Friday launched a historic bridge replacement and rehabilitation program.
As part of the president’s infrastructure law, it’s sending more than $26 billion to the states to fix thousands of bridges and much of it focuses on smaller, often overlooked bridges overdue for repair.READ MORE: New York City Braces For Major Winter Storm; DSNY Pretreats Roads, Has 1,800 Snow Plows Ready
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, New York roads are rattling nerves and racking up repairs.
“It’s horrible. You drive, it’s like hitting speed bumps,” one man said.
Our bridges aren’t much better, but wear-and-tear can be hidden.
“We can repave it and it looks good, but you know what, you have to look at what’s underneath and that’s where the concern is,” Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford said.
The Long Beach Bridge is in need of structural repairs. The Loop Parkway drawbridge often gets stuck.
They help rank New York state sixth in nation for the most bridges in poor condition — 1,702 of them.
“You might have deteriorating concrete. The concrete might have exposed rebar. That rebar starts to rust and deteriorate. The steel might be rusting … and it won’t take much to create a problem,” said Robert Sinclair with AAA Northeast.READ MORE: TIMELINE: Nor'easter Could Bring More Than A Foot Of Snow To Long Island & Jersey Shore; Up To 8 Inches To NYC
But New York is getting $13.5 billion over five years from the infrastructure law, and $2 billion of it is for bridges.
Congressman Tom Suozzi calls it a once-in-a-lifetime home run.
“This will be a huge investment in New York’s infrastructure — for roads, for bridges, for sewer, for water, for airports, for ports. It’s so important and it means jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said.
The money will divvied up by the New York state DOT, a spokesman said, beginning as soon this April “through a collaborative approach.’
Assemblyman Doug Smith wants to make sure it’s fairly distributed.
“That it’s not just a competitive ‘Hunger Games’ situation. We need to make sure that the most dangerous bridges are repaired as quickly as possible,” he said.
The funding comes with incentives for states to invest in aging smaller bridges and overpasses eroding from salt air and…
“They are handling more traffic than they were designed to,” Sinclair said.MORE NEWS: Funeral Held For NYPD Det. Jason Rivera, 22-Year-Old Killed In Line Of Duty In Harlem
At the current pace, experts predict it will take 40 years to repair the backlog of the nation’s most dangerous bridges. Many lawmakers on both side of the aisle say this once-in-a-generation investment is a significant step in getting there.