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August 10, 2009


DiNapoli: New York’s Local Infrastructure Needs Projected
To Be $80 Billion Under Funded Over Next 20 Years

Multi-Year Capital Planning and Increased Federal Funding Needed
Driscoll Joins DiNapoli at News Conference in Syracuse

At the current rate of spending, New York will have $80 billion in unmet infrastructure needs over the next 20 years unless state, federal and local governments work together to improve multi-year capital planning and better fund infrastructure projects, cautioned State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a report he released today in Syracuse. DiNapoli’s report estimates the state’s capital needs for repairing roads, bridges, and water and sewer lines will swell to a quarter trillion dollars over the next 20 years.

“New York’s deteriorating infrastructure is a serious problem, an $80 billion problem,” DiNapoli said. “Governments at every level – federal, state and local – must face the state’s aging infrastructure head on. This won’t be easy but if we don’t invest, our infrastructure will fall apart. Now more than ever, localities have to work together and work smarter to improve capital planning regionally. Government can accomplish so much more when – on a regional basis – we prioritize our mutual needs, pool our resources and get the job done.

“My office is tracking and auditing how New York spends federal stimulus dollars. But even with the stimulus funding, there are billions of dollars in urgent infrastructure improvements that are languishing.”

New York’s local infrastructure needs have been under funded for years, in part due to a significant slowdown in federal and state investments, according to DiNapoli’s report, "Cracks in the Foundation: Local Government Infrastructure and Capital Planning Needs.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides New York with funding for immediate capital improvements, including about $500 million for water and sewer systems and $1.8 billion for roads and highways. While ARRA represents increased federal commitment to infrastructure investment, it only scratches the surface of New York’s looming infrastructure deficiencies, according to DiNapoli.

DiNapoli’s report advocates for improving capital planning at the local government level by conducting an affordability analysis to identify funding gaps; seeking a sustained commitment by federal and state policymakers to increase investment for infrastructure; and developing a regional approach to prioritizing projects.

“Comptroller DiNapoli puts the state’s infrastructure woes into perspective and the level of funding needed is staggering,” said Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll. “The City of Syracuse has several infrastructure projects that need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. The water main break three months ago is an example of the need to address this very old infrastructure in our City. Like many older cities, Syracuse needs to find a long-term funding solution for these types of projects. However, in the short term, we have to take a piecemeal approach to replacing and maintaining our water system. The estimated cost to completely replace our existing water system is in excess of $2 billion. Clearly our city’s tax base cannot support this amount of investment.”

The report is part of DiNapoli’s on-going oversight of federal stimulus spending. DiNapoli’s office is tracking every stimulus contract on the Open Book New York website ( DiNapoli is also auditing local governments’ capital planning processes; conducting a series of audits on stimulus spending; and preparing a management training guide and online tutorial on effective multi-year capital planning for local government officials. In addition, DiNapoli created the Local Government Leadership Institute to offer local governments a forum to discuss regional issues and explore collaboration opportunities.

According to DiNapoli’s report, New York will need to invest $250.1 billion in its water, sewer and highway systems over the next 20 years. This includes $175.2 billion for transportation needs, $36.2 billion for municipal wastewater improvements and $38.7 billion for clean water investments. Assuming current funding levels can be maintained, roughly $80 billion of these projects will remain unfunded.

DiNapoli’s report recommends that state and local officials:

  • Strengthen municipal capital planning by requiring local governments to have a long-term capital plan in place in order to receive any additional aid and asking state agencies to provide guidance on best practices for construction and capital financial management.
  • Urge better intergovernmental coordination among the state and local governments to maximize resources and economic benefits.
  • Establish regional capital planning vehicles, modeled after the metropolitan planning organizations used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to prioritize highway projects.
  • Advocate for increased funding from the federal government after ARRA funds are exhausted.
  • Consider other pooled-financing vehicles similar to the revolving loan fund operated by the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation.

DiNapoli was joined at the news conference by Jerry Comer, International Vice President of IBEW, and Ron Haney, Secretary/Treasurer of the Syracuse Building and Construction Trades.

The following is a list of aging infrastructure systems across New York.


Regional Examples of New York’s Aging Infrastructure


Western NY

  • City of Buffalo water system
  • Village of Springville sinkhole repairs on South Buffalo Street

Central NY

  • Oneida County Sewer District
  • City of Syracuse water system

Capital District

  • Town of East Greenbush water system
  • City of Troy water system

Southern Tier

  • Broome County bridges rated structurally deficient
  • Town of Vestal water system

Hudson Valley

  • Westchester County sewage treatment plants
  • Town of Middletown sewer/stormwater infrastructure

Northern NY

  • Village of Saranac Lake water system
  • Town of Elizabethtown sewage and wastewater treatment

Long Island

  • Village of Patchogue sewage and wastewater treatment


Report, "Cracks in the Foundation: Local Government Infrastructure and Capital Planning Needs.”


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