City needs almost $50B in infrastructure repairs: report

Century-old water mains, decaying sewers, gas lines, and bridges among areas of concern

A New York City sewer main
A New York City sewer main

New York City’s aging infrastructure is in desperate need of an overhaul that would cost nearly $50 billion over four years, according to a new report.

One hundred-year-old water mains, decaying sewers, gas lines, hospitals, bridges, homeless shelters and schools are among New York City’s crumbling items in need of attention, argues a report from the Center for an Urban Future that was released on Tuesday. And in order to bring these elements up to a state of good repair, the city must spend $47.3 billion over the next four or five years, according to the report.

“Simply put, too much of the city’s essential infrastructure remains stuck in the 20th century,” the report reads. “[It is a] problem for a city positioning itself to compete with other gloabl cities in today’s 21st-century economy.”

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Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg made such items a key spending focus during his 12 years in office, allotting $41.3 billion between 2007 and 2010. But the administration spent the bulk of this budget on new schools and parks, neglecting areas existing elements in the meantime, according to the report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, has positioned $33.6 billion over the next four years for capital projects, though the details of his plan have not yet been clearly laid out. But even at the start, the budget is a $3.3 billion drop from Bloomberg’s.

“De Blasio’s first budget essentially leaves unchanged the rest of Bloomberg’s planned capital-spending cuts. That is not a very good sign,” Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told Crain’s. “It’s not a good sign, either, that de Blasio almost never mentions infrastructure. Capital spending is not among de Blasio’s publicized political priorities, and thus remains quite vulnerable to even more cuts.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to Crain’s request for comment. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland