Updated (1:13 p.m.): As New York City copes with its limited transportation budget and the state of its roads after a very rough winter, the way the MTA allocates funds has come under a small microscope. Yesterday’s Post featured a piece on the state of MTA bridges, and the results were not pretty. “One-fifth of the agency’s spans or their approaches scored below the middle point on the state’s bridge-maintenance rating system,” the paper reported. A more recent assessment of the MTA’s crossings, however, found that all MTA Bridges & Tunnels crossings rated between a 4 and a 6, well within safety parameters.
With that in mind, The Post questioned whether or not enough of the $60 million the bridges and tunnels generate per month are being reinvested into MTA crossing maintenance. “You want to keep the bridges from a point where it forces you to change their use, whether it’s changing their load limit or closing them for an extended period of time,” Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said. Bridge maintenance is covered in the authority’s five-year capital plan, and the MTA will spend over $1 billion on the RFK and Verrazano Bridges alone during the current five-year stint — provided that Albany comes through with the funding.
The MTA, meanwhile, disputed The Posts charges. In statement, the authority said, “All MTA Bridges and Tunnels crossings are safe and well-maintained , with no weight restrictions due to structural deficiencies or safety issues identified at any facility. In the last and current capital budgets we will have spent $3.7 billion on capital improvements, and we continually invest in the maintenance of bridges and tunnels that range in age from 46 to 75 years old. Toll revenues are used first and foremost for this purpose, and only go to support public transit after maintenance needs are addressed.”
Meanwhile, today, The Post tells us that bridge and tunnel traffic is down by nearly 1 million cars this year. In percentages, that’s a 3.9 percent decline in passenger cars and a 6.6 percent decline in travel by trucks and buses. The MTA — which is short $6.4 million due to the decline — seems willing to blame the fare hike, but I think extremely high gas prices and fewer overall auto trips can’t be dismissed quite so easily. As the MTA has urged more drivers to use E-ZPass, though, trips by cars with transponders has increased by 3.5 percent through April of 2011 as compared with the same time period last year while the numbers of those paying with cash fell by over 17 percent.
From the Post article: “One-fifth of the agency’s spans or their approaches scored below the middle point on the state’s bridge-maintenance rating system. Only 3 percent of city-owned bridges and 1.5 percent of state-owned bridges in the area earned similarly low scores.:
Really? I’ve always thought the MTA crossings were in remarkably good shape, especially compared to the free East River bridges. They are substandard in terms of engineering design (tight turns, no shoulders, etc), but there’s not much that can be done about that.
Comparing it to the 3% and 1.5% stat is not an equal comparison. Of course an overpass at Park Avenue or above the Grand Central Parkway will be in better shape. Let’s see how the wide-span, river-crossing, highway-grade city and state owned bridges fare on this rating scale. I think the MTA will come out ahead.
Some concrete figures would be nice. You know, X out of Y, instead of Z%, which doesn’t mean much out of context.
This is very anecdotal, but me and another co-worker (both Staten Islanders who work in Midtown) finally gave up on driving to work for our late shifts. We both got so tired of sitting on the BQE and subsidizing our own MetroCards by shelling out $5.50 a day to drive over the VZ Bridge. Now we both take the ferry and the subway to Grand Central, and I gotta admit I’m less stressed when I arrive at work. Of course, the downside for the MTA is that I’m not subsidizing my own subway rides anymore. If just 100 less Staten Islanders don’t use the bridge like they used to, that’s $550 a day the MTA is losing (small change maybe, but still less $$ into the MTA coffers).
I don’t see the downside. It costs a lot more than $5.50 to cover the hidden costs of a drive from Staten Island to Midtown. General society subsidizes your commute in either case, but less so now than when you drove.
Really? I’m thinking I use about $1 worth of gas each way (which I pay for, plus taxes) and my little Chevy uses up about 25 cents of wear-n-tear on the bridges and roads. Just about all that toll money on the VZ Bridge (and sometimes the B’klyn-Battery Tunnel if I choose to use it) goes right into the MTA’s coffers and subsidizes bus/subway operations. The downside to the MTA and its various riders is that they are not getting my toll money. For me, there is no downside.
You’re underestimating the cost of operating and maintaining a major bridge.
You’re ignoring the cost of all of the other roads and streets that you drive on to get from Staten Island to Midtown – a single bridge doesn’t take you the whole way!
You’re also ignoring the cost imposed on other individuals – the additional delay your car produces for everybody behind it (other drivers, bus riders, delivery trucks and their customers), the noise and air pollution generated by your car, the slight risk of property damage, injury, or death to others if you should happen to make an error in judgment while driving, etc. (If you park on the street – which, in Midtown, you probably don’t – add on the cost of the storage space for your car, which is either free or incredibly underpriced.)
So if taking the ferry and subway works out better for you too, there’s certainly nothing to apologize for.
The MTA, meanwhile, disputed The Posts charges. In statement, the authority said, “All MTA Bridges and Tunnels crossings are safe and well-maintained , with no weight restrictions due to structural deficiencies or safety issues identified at any facility.
Throgs Neck Bridge
6 and 7-axle trucks not exceeding 105,000 lbs. GVW with valid City or State Divisible Load Permits and 5-axle trucks not exceeding 102,000 lbs. GVW with valid milk hauling permits are the only divisible loads allowed to cross the Throgs Neck Bridge. They must use the center lane at all times at speeds of no more than 30 mph. This permission may be revoked at any time and for any reason. No other trucks carrying divisible loads are allowed on the Throgs Neck. Trucks with GVW of 80,000 lbs or less and trucks in compliance with the New York State Bridge Formula must also travel in the center lane at speeds of no more than 30 mph on the Throgs Neck Bridge.