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Governor Cuomo Announces $257 Million Bridge Scour Program Advances for Federal Action

51 flood prone bridges identified for upgrade funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant program.

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Albany, NY - May 8, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 51 scour-critical bridges have progressed to the next stage for federal action through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). In June 2013, Governor Cuomo announced a call for projects to be funded by the HMGP program to assist local governments and non-profit organizations to rebuild stronger, more sustainable communities. Authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the program aims to increase the State’s resiliency, reduce hardship, and mitigate the risks of loss and damage associated with future disasters.

“Preparing for the new reality of extreme weather means redesigning our State to be stronger and more resilient than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are upgrading these bridges so they are ready to meet the challenges of the future and continue to serve generations of New Yorkers.”

“The retrofitting and/or upgrading of the identified structures to better sustain extreme weather is a necessary investment,” said Storm Recovery Director Jamie Rubin. “These bridges and their adjoining roadways are a lifeline, particularly during severe weather events where emergency responders and healthcare providers must be able to move safely throughout the region.”

Bridge scour erodes and carries away foundation materials such as sand and rocks from around and beneath bridge abutments, piers, foundations and embankments. Upgrading these bridges will ensure access to emergency services during and after flood events and reduce the risk of flooding where bridge openings cause rivers and streams to back up.

The 51 scour-critical bridges identified as most at risk from repeated flooding are in the Capital District, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Finger Lakes, Central/Western and Southern Tier regions. All of the bridges included in this program of upgrades and retrofits were built to the codes and standards of their time and remain safe and open for everyday traffic. However, due to a variety of natural severe weather events and the increasing frequency of major storms and floods, they are now vulnerable to scour caused by the intensity and velocity of water from extreme natural events.

The first 51 bridges in the scour program, which are being recommended today, will cost more than $257 million dollars, of which $193 million will be paid for by FEMA if approved through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The total cost of the program, including all 105 bridges across the state, will be $518 million, of which $388 million would be paid through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Completion of the program will afford the residents of 78 communities within 30 counties across the State of New York continued access to these critical lifesaving services in the event of an emergency. Additionally, through the improvement of these structures, adverse impacts to travel throughout the State will be greatly reduced during severe weather resulting in excess volumes of water.