Authority lacks funding for highway repairs
It will cost about $13 billion to return the Thruway to its original condition, but the Thruway Authority doesn’t have the money to cover needed upgrades.
That’s the finding of a new audit report from the state Comptroller’s Office.
Some portions of the superhighway and its bridges are more than 60 years old and are nearing the last stages of their projected useful lives.
In 2014, the authority spent about $1.1 billion, including about $711 million to support Thruway operations, $281 million for its capital program and $66 million for New York State Canal Corp. operations, the report states. (That spending did not include costs associated with construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.)
And while the Thruway Authority’s fiscal condition has shown some improvement in recent years, “significant concerns still remain,” the comptroller’s report says. Its says the authority’s use of debt increased and, as a result, its liabilities rose almost 83 percent, from $3.5 billion in 2010 to $6.4 billion in 2014. The authority has implemented several cost-reduction strategies, the report states, but they are limited to payroll and benefit expenses, with estimated savings of about $26 million a year between 2010 and 2014. Only about 10 percent of the highway and 20 percent of its bridges have been replaced or reconstructed.
A key recommendation by the Comptroller’s Office is for the authority to develop and implement a long-term comprehensive strategic plan to address funding needs to pay for repairs to or replace components of the aging infrastructure.
The Thruway Authority responded to the audit: “We are making major capital investments in our system including the new ... bridge to replace the Tappan Zee, one of the largest infrastructure projects of its kind in the country. We are repairing bridges and roadways across the state and keeping our commitment to having the best maintained highway system in the country, making our highway safe for millions of motorists a year. We’re doing all that while implementing a variety of costreduction strategies — all of which the comptroller readily acknowledges in his report.”
Earlier this month, the Thruway Authority said it would not increase tolls on the highway in 2017.
It will cost $13billion to return the Thruway to its original condition, but there isn't enough money, a new report says.
The New York State Thruway, northbound, is shown near the Malden Service Area in Saugerties in 2013.