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Report: NYC Infrastructure Needs Major Investment Despite Recent Gains

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Increased usage and new stresses from climate change make bringing the city's core infrastructure to a state of good repair all the more essential.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By: Kevin Latham

A new report from the Center for an Urban Future finds that while New York City has made record-level capital investments, results “have been mixed. Increased usage and new stresses from climate change make bringing the city’s core infrastructure to a state of good repair all the more essential.”

A summary of the report penned on the group’s web site (https://nycfuture.org/research/caution-ahead-five-years-later) by Charles Shaviro, Laird Gallagher, Jonathan Bowles, and Eli Dvorkin

“In March 2014, the Center for an Urban Future documented an array of challenges and vulnerabilities resulting from the city’s aging infrastructure. Our report, titled Caution Ahead, revealed that many of the city’s roads, bridges, subway signals, water and sewer mains, and public buildings were more than 50 years old and in varying states of disrepair. And it identified a minimum investment of $47.3 billion over the next five years to bring the city’s core infrastructure to a state of good repair,” the authors note. “The events of the past month make it clear that the city’s aging assets still present a massive infrastructure challenge. If anything, the need has only been magnified as a result of unprecedented usage from a growing population and record tourism, and new stresses brought on by climate change.”

Among the report’s key findings, according to the group, progress has been made, but problems still remain. They include:

* The estimated state-of-good-repair needs at the eighteen city agencies analyzed in our original 2014 report have ballooned, increasing by 19 percent—from $6.6 billion for FY 2014–17 to $7.8 billion for FY 2018–21.

* While city funding has also increased during this period, fourteen of the eighteen agencies still have less than 40 percent of their four-year state-of-good-repair needs funded.

* Five city agencies have less than 20 percent of their four-year state-of-good-repair needs funded.

* Six agencies have a state-of-good-repair needs gap of at least $100 million. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) alone recorded a gap of over $1.5 billion, while the Parks Department had a gap of over $500 million.

* Capital needs at the DOE have nearly doubled since 2011, with four-year state-of-good-repair needs for city schools increasing from an inflation-adjusted $1.1 billion in 2011 to $2.1 billion in 2017.

* Planned spending at the DOE has not kept up with escalating repair needs, leading to a shortfall that has grown from an inflation-adjusted $865 million in 2011 to over $1.5 billion in 2017.

* CUNY’s four-year state-of-good-repair needs for 2017 topped $100 million, more than double the inflation-adjusted $47.6 million reported in 2011.3

* New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s overall five-year capital needs increased over 70 percent to $31.8 billion in 2017, up from $18.3 billion in 2011 (adjusted for inflation).

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