Report: Our Infrastructure is Really Not Great

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snow on a Q train, back in December 2013 (MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann/flickr)

A new report from the Center for an Urban Future takes a deep look at New York City's infrastructure, from subways to homeless shelters to hospitals, and finds many elements in need of repair or upgrades. Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the think-tank, and Adam Forman, author of the report, look at what it would take to get the city's infrastructure back on track.

Key Data from "Caution Ahead"


Jonathan Bowles and Adam Forman

Comments [16]


i asked the syncophantic prof. at the WHOREHOUSE IN MORNINGSIDE HTS. WHEN WAS the last time your stupid state even built a major monumental bridge ? need a hint ? go back to the FIRST WORLD TOUR OF THE BEATLES AT SHEA STADIUM! LOOK NUMERO UNO WHEN DISCUSSING the record of the stupid state of n.y. in regards to CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURAL IMPROVEMENTS AND UPGRADES there is only CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE AND DERELICTION OF DUTY on the part of your BENIGHTED BLASPHEMOUS BOOTLESS state capitol in ALBANY 50 YRS. AND NOT ONE BRIDGE BUILT BUT WAIT you coild alwayselect a cuomo AND build a jail in SULLIVAN COUNTY forget being an ENGINEER in your stupid state the REAL GROWTH industry must necessarily be of A PENAL NATURE loook at it this way it provides for jobs in the rural areas of this stupid state and u don,t have to ENDURE endless ecological feasibility studies which can DRAG ON for yrs. and there are no NASTY LITIGIOUS FASTIDIOUS ATROCIOUS LEGAL DELAYS either. u stooges followed people like the GERIATRIC WEASEL robert caro who thot bridge building a waste of tax payer revenues really REALLY NO WONDER the n.y. METRO AREA IS THE INFRASTRUCTURAL TOILET BOWL OF AMERICA. NO WONDER THE COFFERS OF your stupid state are EMPTY. NO WONDER the jobs and businesses have bolted your stupid state BY THE DROVES. AND YES TOURISM IN N.Y.S. has been DECIMATED by this NIGGARDLY APPROACH TO VITALLY NEEDED MASSIVE CIVIC MONUMENTAL EPOCAL INFRASTRUCTURAL PROJECTS.

May. 04 2014 10:31 PM

With all the new luxury high rises, I wonder if the builders/owners are asked to pay a charge to put more stress on the aging gas-pipes, sewers, etc. And many of them have several bathrooms.

Mar. 13 2014 12:10 PM
francynepelchar from pelham bay park

The subway, bridges, water mains....very worrisome; could result in loss of life. don't give a rat's a.. about the homeless shelters.

Mar. 12 2014 04:58 PM

Thank you for doing this featured topic which I feel is th most under-reported issue facing, not just th NY region, but th US as a whole. Frankly, by this stage of th game I've about had it with th wide-open, underpopulated red states (and their representatives) who've kept this nation's infrastructure and education system as an Eisenhower Era joke for th rest of th developed world to snicker at. Chris Christie must have had the red states in mind when he put a halt to th construction of th new sub-Hudson tunnel and increased th unemployment population here in NJ; and he's managed to keep it there ever since. One purpose our antiquated infrastructure does serve however, and it is that of a sophomoric symbol of a less-than-serious society that we've become in th last 30 plus years.

Mar. 11 2014 07:08 PM
Bernie from UWS

Agreed 100 percent with the previous commenters that the subways and their stations are a disgusting embarrassment. I was recently in Paris and there you have an old system that's been continually upgraded and modernized and the difference is striking: Stations are generally clean and well-lit, the trains are sleek and modern and service is significantly better - never did I wait for more than 2 or 3 minutes, even late at night or on the weekend.

And once on the train, everything was smooth and quiet - none of the screeching and lurching you get on NYC Subways.

Mar. 11 2014 01:31 PM
Ehren from Brooklyn

When one talks about the 'City" paying for infrastructure they mean the 'tax payer' and the public sector. It is the lower and middle income households and individuals that bear the burden of infrastructure development through taxation and the backbreaking work of building, so it's slightly misleading to amplify the story as a beneficial jobs creator. Updating New York is necessity and jobs are an obvious outcome of that directive, but we need to look toward the law to lay a foundation for incentive, sustainment, and common equity. A fair and transformative 1% tax on financial transactions would generate more than enough money to pay for infrastructure -- and to revamp our school system, which is leaving a wake on the airwaves. Instead of calling it the 'Robin Hood' tax which imparts a negative connotation, we should call it the 'Interchange Tax' or possibly the 'Change 4 Change' tax;)

Mar. 11 2014 11:35 AM

Where will the funds come from for these projects?
Taxes? The middle has no breathing room and the rich are too greedy.
Bonds? The investor-class can do much better than the 6-8% than they can get on a muni.
Savings and Loans? Don't you wish! There is no private savings function for those earning less than $200K that I can discern.

Infrastructure is more than roads and bridges. Smart electrical and faster broadband are in these categories. I'd add high speed rail, too. Much more efficient than driving a car or truck.

Mar. 11 2014 10:43 AM
Bonn from East Village

How about spending money on cleaning the subways, platforms, tracks and stations. They are filthy and an embarrassment. Now that booths have been pulled out, the filth is even more noticeable in the stations. So much garbage and many rodents on the tracks. The wall tiles are black. This is what foreigners notice more than the lack of "beautiful" trains.

Mar. 11 2014 10:42 AM
Bob Hughes from Warren, RI

There is no question our infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and replacement. But the reality is there is no money to do any of this. We will continue to descend into third world status, sadly. Oh, and the money all went to George W. Bush's Wars of Choice in Iraq and Afghanistan, which we will continue to pay for with the national debt.

Mar. 11 2014 10:42 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The best "infrastructure" would be mass adoption of lighter, energy efficient electric cars. Once self-driving electric cars are adopted and produced en masse, the highway and bridge problems will be solved for another generation. Also, less pollution, less weight on bridges, and so on.

Mar. 11 2014 10:42 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

One of the first things Christie did when he took office was to stop work on a new Hudson River crossing. How short-sided was that? Now he's hoping to be president.

Mar. 11 2014 10:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The best "infrastructure" would be mass adoption of lighter, energy efficient electric cars. Once self-driving electric cars are adopted and produced en masse, the highway and bridge problems will be solved for another generation. Also, less pollution, less weight on bridges, and so on.

Mar. 11 2014 10:41 AM
john from office

The subways and trains in other countries are pretty because they are NEW!!! Come back in a 100 years and look at them then. Our subways are still running. The DC metro was touted as a great system, now twenty years later they look dirty and unmaintained. Same will happen in China, in fact some of their new tracks are already being replaced, due to poor construction.

Mar. 11 2014 10:40 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Another way to argue for making this a priority is to point out how much more it will cost to deal w/the damage *and* rebuild if we don't spend on fixing the infrastructure before it fails. How much did it cost to deal w/the effects of 23rd St. water main break, & how much would it have cost to fix it before that happened?

Mar. 11 2014 10:38 AM
Bobby G from East Village

What is Mayor de Blasio"s commitment to infrastructure upgrades and maintenance? I recall him opposing increases in water and sewage fees. What is his solution -- deferred maintenance or more budget busting borrowing?

Mar. 11 2014 10:33 AM

But WE have the most lawyers per capita.

Mar. 11 2014 10:14 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.