Assessing Progress & Challenges of New York's Aging Infrastructure

January 14, 2020 12:00 PM EST - 1:00 PM EST

Overdue Investments for New York's Again Infrastructure

Assessing Progress and Challenges for New York City's Aging Infrastructure


In March 2014, the Center for an Urban Future documented an array of challenges and vulnerabilities resulting from the city’s aging infrastructure. The initial report in 2014, titled “Caution Ahead”, revealed that many of the city’s roads, bridges, subway signals, water and sewer mains, and public buildings were more than 50 years old and in varying states of disrepair. And it identified a minimum investment of $47.3 billion over the next five years to bring the city’s core infrastructure to a state of good repair.

Join us on January 14th as Jonathan Bowles, the Center for Urban Future’s Executive Director focuses on the new study which provides a five-year update to the assessment of New York City’s aging infrastructure vulnerabilities. In this five-year update to our landmark report on New York City’s aging infrastructure, we find that the city has made record-level capital investments, but results have been mixed. Increased usage and new stresses from climate change make bringing the city's core infrastructure to a state of good repair all the more essential.

The new analysis shows that some of the problems that have been documented five years ago have only gotten worse and that the new stressors like climate change have only added to the overall price tag to bring the city’s core infrastructure to a state of good repair.

  • Increased capital investment—particularly in water and sewer infrastructure and street resurfacing—is beginning to show results. But in other areas, conditions have gotten worse as needs have grown.
  • Although the city has ramped up the pace of water main replacement, there were still 522 water main breaks last year—the highest total in over a decade.
  • New York City’s bridges also show mixed results. The number of structurally deficient bridges—those in need of substantial maintenance and repair—has declined but the number of bridges that are also fractured critical—at risk of partial collapse—has increased.

Throughout this webinar, we will discuss the decisions made by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to significantly increase the city’s capital investments are paying off and putting the city’s core infrastructure on a stronger footing. But it is also evident that current investment levels will need to be sustained, not only to make up for decades of underinvestment but also to keep pace with increasing usage and new stresses. Doing so will be essential to keeping New York City a global leader in the twenty-first century.


About the presenter:

 Jonathan Bowles

Jonathan Bowles is executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a leading NYC-based think tank that focuses on expanding economic opportunity and growing the economy in New York City. During his 20 years at the Center, he has been the architect of the Center’s policy agenda and is responsible for making it one of New York’s most innovative and influential organizations. He has written extensively about a range of topics that are important to New York’s future, including spurring more middle class jobs, upgrading the city’s aging infrastructure, boosting community college graduation rates, helping more New Yorkers access tech careers, and scaling up more of the city’s small businesses. He co-chaired the Economy and Jobs subcommittee of Mayor-Elect de Blasio’s transition committee, and was once named “New York’s Finest Troublemaker” by Time Out New York. He lives in Queens with his wife and his kids.


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Microsol Resources is an Approved Provider through the AIA/CES and will provide a Certificate of Completion for 1 AIA LU and PDH for this seminar.

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