Report Points to Danger of Delaying Infrastructure Investment

March 14, 2014


New York City’s infrastructure is in desperate need of investment says a new report.

Franklin Roosevelt was in office and Mickey Mouse first hit the screen when most of New York City’s sewer mains were installed. The Cold War was just starting and home TVs were still a rarity around the time when most schools were built in the five boroughs.


And World War I was just getting underway when more than 1,000 miles of existing city water mains were set up.

A newreportfrom the Center for an Urban Future, a NYC-based think tank, shows just how outdated the city’s infrastructure is, threatening economic growth and quality of life for citizens.

“Much of the city’s roads, bridges, subways, water mains, sewer systems , school buildings and other public buildings are more than 50 years old, and many critical components are past their useful life and highly susceptible to breaks and malfunctions,” writes report author Adam Forman.

Among some of Forman’s disturbing findings:

  • 63 percent of cargo facilities at John F. Kennedy International Airport are unfit for modern screening and distribution
  • 162 bridges across the city are structurally deficient
  • 37 percent of NYC subway’s mainline signals have exceeded their 50-year useful life

For the United States’ biggest city, one that prides itself as a leader in the global economy, this is a big problem.

“If we continue on the current course, it is likely New York will be substantially diminished as a global leader, with enormous environmental, social, political, and financial implications that far outweigh the cost,” said Elliot Sander, former city commissioner of transportation.

Forman low-balls the cost of repairing or replacing aged infrastructure at $7.3 billion, a big price tag when the federal and state governments are slashing expenditures. But he puts forward some recommendations to help make it happen, including a public-private infrastructure bank to fund new construction, federal infrastructure support as mentioned by President Obama in his2014 State of the Union address, and streamlining construction costs by usingproject labor agreementsand rejecting bids from unqualified contractors.

Infrastructure spending not only means better city services and facilities – it means good jobs.

Former President Bill Clinton, speaking at theBuilding and Construction Trades Council’s Legislative Conferencemeeting March 10, pointed out that investing in infrastructure is a good deal for both investors and Americans looking for work.

“What we are doing is just scratching the surface,” Clinton said about the efforts of theClinton Global Initiativeto invest in projects like fixing roads and bridges, expanding the power grid, and retrofitting buildings. “It’s the proper way to invest in our economy because it works. These types of investments are a better job growth strategy than financial transactions.”


Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user nydiscovery7


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