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Funding to Maintain

Dutchess County Public Transit, LaGrange, New York

Moving Dutchess Forward seeks to create a safe and reliable transportation system that provides access to our basic needs – but that’s not possible if our existing infrastructure falls into disrepair, so funding our maintenance needs is essential. We estimated the funding needed to maintain our transportation system based on five main components: bridges, roads, transit service, sidewalks, and rail trails. For each component, we developed planning-level costs for the short term (2022-2025), long term (2026-2045), and full planning period (2022-2045). We also calculated costs by ‘year of expenditure’ to account for inflation, assuming two percent annually.

Bridges

Bridges play an essential role in our transportation system, but most of us don’t think about them until one stops functioning. A lengthy closure, a weight restriction, or temporary flooding can severely disrupt travel, which is why agencies pay close attention to bridge maintenance.

To estimate our bridge maintenance costs, we focused on two components: preventative maintenance (how much is needed to do minor bridge repairs?) and replacements (how much is needed to replace bridges in poor condition?).

Preventive maintenance includes replacing decks, washing and painting structures, and rehabilitating piers, columns, and beams. This work is usually part of an agency’s annual maintenance budget and work program. For routine bridge maintenance, we estimated needs based on how much is currently spent annually to maintain bridges on the federal-aid system across the county. Extrapolating these annual costs, we estimate bridge maintenance costs of $20 million for the short term (2022-2025), $125 million for the long term (2026-2045), and $145 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045).

An agency may need to replace a bridge if it is in very poor condition. To estimate our bridge replacement costs, we assumed that any bridge with a current rating below 5 or that was otherwise identified as being in ‘poor’ condition by FHWA would need to be replaced by 2045. We identified 71 bridges (about 20 percent of road bridges in the county) that met these criteria. 32 of these are on federal-aid roads, with 24 located on the National Highway System (NHS) – these are mostly NYSDOT-owned bridges. The remaining 39 bridges are on non-federal aid roads – what we call ‘off-system’ bridges – typically county or locally owned. In general, NHS and other federal-aid bridges are given higher priority for federal funds than off-system bridges.

To estimate the cost of replacing these bridges, we applied a rate of $450 per square foot to the bridge deck area to calculate a general construction cost. We also added costs for design, right-of-way, and inspection, and inflation through 2045. Based on this, we estimate total bridge replacement costs of $23 million for the short term (2022-2025), $147 million for the long term (2026-2045), and about $170 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045). Most of these costs are for bridges on the NHS.

Combining our bridge maintenance and replacement costs, we estimate a total ‘bridge’ cost of about $43 million for the short term (2022-2025), $272 million for the long term (2026-2045), and $314 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045).

 Number of Bridges 1Total Deck Area 2Total Cost 3
National Highway System (NHS)24164,040$124
Other Federal-Aid Roads89,844$7
Non-Federal Roads3954,508$38
Total71228,392$170

1 Assumes bridges with a current rating below 5.0 or in otherwise 'poor' condition will need to be replaced by 2045.
2 Total Square Feet
3 Shown in $-millions

Roads

We tend to have a more visceral relationship with our roads – we can feel poor pavement when driving a vehicle or riding a bus, get uneasy when bicycling or walking on a narrow shoulder, and experience the headaches of navigating an intersection when a traffic signal stops working. Road maintenance is essential to a functioning, safe, and reliable transportation system.

To estimate our road maintenance costs, we focused on two components: pavement condition (how much is needed to keep our roads in good shape?) and road operations (how much is needed to keep everything on our roads working properly?).

For pavement costs, we looked at pavement conditions for state, county, and local roads, focusing on federal-aid eligible roads. We assumed that roads currently in poor or fair condition will require repaving during the planning period. Based on this assessment, we estimated that about 327 miles of federal-aid eligible roads will need to be repaved through 2045, which includes 161 miles on NHS roads.

We estimated the cost of repaving these roads using a repaving cost of $225,000 per lane mile (we assumed a single-course asphalt overlay for planning purposes) and annualized the total cost with inflation. For federal-aid roads, we estimate a total paving cost of almost $26 million for the short term (2022-2025), $164 million for the long term (2026-2045), and $190 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045). But road maintenance is more than just good pavement. Agencies must make roads function safely and reliably by maintaining drainage, replacing traffic signals, repainting lane markings, replacing signs, fixing guiderails, and so on.

We estimated these maintenance costs based on how much NYSDOT spends across the region on these types of projects, as shown on our Capital Program (TIP). We then estimated how much is spent in Dutchess County based on our historical share of highway funding in the region. We also included road maintenance costs from County Public Works. And as with our pavement needs, we only focused on federal-aid roads.

Based on this, we estimate total road maintenance costs of over $17 million for the short term (2022-2025), about $112 million for the long term (2026-2045), and $129 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045).

Combining our repaving and road maintenance costs, we estimate a total ‘road’ cost of $43 million for the short term (2022-2025), $276 million for the long term (2026-2045), and over $319 million for the entire planning period (2022-2045).

 Total Miles1Total Deck Area2
National Highway System (NHS)161$94
Other Federal-Aid Roads166$97
Total327$190

1 Assumes roads currently in 'poor' or 'fair' condition will need to be repaved by 2045.

2 Shown in $-millions

Transit: Dutchess County Public Transit

Local bus service provides an essential lifeline to many residents, especially those who do not own a vehicle or cannot drive. Maintaining that service is critical to promoting a safe and reliable transportation system that provides access to basic needs.

We estimated local transit funding needs based on input from County Public Transit, recent costs and expected future trends, and a financial analysis completed as part of our Connect Mid-Hudson regional transit plan (see ten year budget forecast in Appendix). We assumed no changes in transit service, but a shift to electric buses beginning in 2034.

For the short-term period (2022-2025), we estimate total operating costs of about $48 million and capital costs of about $7 million, for a total cost of about $55 million. For the long-term period (2026-2045), we estimate total operating costs of about $308 million and total capital costs of about $90 million, for a total cost of $398 million. This equates to a total operating cost of $356 million and capital cost of $97 million, for a combined total cost of $453 million over the entire planning period (2022-2045).

 Short term (2022-2025)Long term (2026-2045)Planning period (2022-2045)
Capital Expenses$7$90$97
Operating Expenses$48$308$356
Total$55$398$453
Shown in $-millions

Walking: Sidewalks

Sidewalks provide a healthy, economical, and pollution-free alternative to driving, but like our roads and bridges, they need to be adequately maintained.

To estimate county-wide needs for sidewalk maintenance, we reviewed our most recent series of pedestrian plans, each of which inventoried a local sidewalk system and classified the sidewalks’ condition as excellent, good, fair, or poor. On average, about 15 percent of local sidewalks were in fair or poor condition. We applied this average to the 300 miles of sidewalks along streets in the county (excluding interior sidewalks, such as on campuses, cemeteries, and residential complexes). Based on this, we estimate that about 44 miles of sidewalk should be replaced. While good and excellent condition sidewalks will deteriorate over time, we assumed only one cycle of replacement over the planning period, based on a common assumption of a 25-year life for sidewalks.

We used the NYSDOT Quick Estimator Tool’s cost for a five-foot sidewalk ($74 per linear foot) to estimate replacement costs. Based on this, we estimate total sidewalk maintenance costs of about $3 million for the short term (2022-2025), over $14 million for the long term (2026-2045), and over $17 million over the entire planning period (2022-2045).

Bicycling: Rail Trails

Our county is home to an expanding set of rail trails, which serve both a transportation and recreational purpose. As with other forms of transportation, keeping our existing trails in good shape is an essential maintenance need.

Dutchess County has about 47 miles of rail trails (including the Dutchess, Maybrook, and Harlem Valley rail trails). Based on the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s 2015 report on Maintenance Practices and Costs of Rail-Trails, we assumed an annual maintenance cost of about $2,000 per mile, or about $95,000 for the system. We estimate total maintenance costs of about $400,000 for the short term (2022-2025), about $2.5 million for the long term (2026-2045), and about $3 million over the entire planning period (2022-2045).

What’s our total need?

If we look at all our needs, we estimate a total cost of $144 million for the short term (2022-2025), $963 million for the long term (2026-2045), and over $1.1 billion for the entire planning period (2022-2045) – sizeable numbers that speak to how much it really takes to simply maintain our transportation system.

 Short term (2022-2025)Long term (2026-2045)Planning period (2022-2045)
Bridges$43$272$314
Roads$43$276$320
Transit (bus)$55$398$453
Walking (sidewalks)$3$14.4$17
Bicycling (rail trails)$0.4$2.5$2.9
Total$144$963$1,108
Shown in $-millions