Aging infrastructure is taking its toll on communities across New York State.
"Bridges are not cheap. 100 foot bridge could be $2.3 million to $3 million. And in the road business, that could be 20 miles of road," said Charles Sickler, Erie County deputy commissioner of highways.
According to a recent comptroller's report, 95 bridges across Erie County have been identified as "structurally deficient." 52 of those are locally owned, meaning the burden of repairs falls mostly on the county, followed by the city of Buffalo and then a few towns and villages.
The cost to fix those bridges could add up to more than $1.1 billion. The county would foot more than half that bill. About $340 million is the responsibility of local towns, villages and cities.
"It's tough for all the local municipalities because speaking realistically, it's out of the reach of a local municipality's budget to be replacing bridges or major infrastructure on a regular basis,” said Michael Finn, the Buffalo city engineer.
Gabriel Deyo, the NYS deputy comptroller for Local Governments and School Accountability added, "The state Department of Transportation has identified, based on their own rating system, that there are more than 970 local bridges that are not deficient now but within the next five years, if they don't receive preventative maintenance timely, they will be."
While Western New York leaders say they believe the state is taking the right steps in doing as much as it can, they want to see the federal government step in and do a little more when it comes to aging infrastructure.
"There's a lot of talk in Washington right now about infrastructure in general. This is a good way to be identifying how much money is needed to make sure it's part of the discussion,” said Deyo.
Finn added, "On the federal government side, we have not seen an increase in funding in several years."
Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the Bridge NY program aimed to help aging infrastructure. It allocates $200 million to repair 132 bridges and culverts this year. But that pales to the $27 billion needed to fix the state's structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.