​Brooklyn Bridge repairs $100 million over budget

Brooklyn Bridge (Reuters / Shannon Stapleton)
A costly five-year renovation of the US’ oldest suspension bridge is running almost $100 million over budget after engineers discovered 3,000 new structural problems.

Those problems include seven inch cracks in steel beams, holes and fraying cables, according to a report by the New York Daily News based on documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The renovations for one of the New York's landmarks has cost $508 million so far, but the additional repairs will bring the cost up to more than $600 million, the newspaper reported. The Department of Transportation (DOT) had said the 132-year-old bridge was due to reopen last April after renovations began in 2010 under the Bloomberg administration, but the date was pushed back by a year.

“During the normal course of the work, DOT identified thousands of additional steel repairs that were needed, which have required additional time and funding for the project,” department spokeswoman Bonny Tsang told the Daily News.

The 5,989-foot-long bridge carries over 130,000 vehicles a day, with a dedicated pedestrian walkway. The renovations were made possible in part because of federal stimulus money for infrastructure projects, but there have been additional expenditures requested from the city during the rehabilitation work. Now the work will not be completed until sometime in 2016, according to the DOT. The bridge has been closed for 17 weekends and many lanes are partially blocked.

The lead contractor, Skanska-Koch, says most of the broad repairs are completed but delays are due to the city's reluctance to shut down the bridge for entire weekends.

The last major renovation on the bridge was in 1958. Governors and mayors across the US are aware of infrastructural issues but rehabilitation costs, which are always high, are usually delayed for a future administration. In 2007, when Minneapolis’ I-35 truss arch collapsed and killed 13 people, then-Governor Eliot Spitzer ordered inspections of 49 similar bridges across the state, eight of which are in New York City.

As a result, the Brooklyn Bridge received a “poor” condition rating.

A year later, Popular Mechanics did a survey of the top 10 pieces of US infrastructure that needed to be fixed, featuring the Brooklyn Bridge as “structurally deficient.” While not likely to fall down, some of the approaches to the bridge were found to have rusting steel and deteriorating road decks. Many of the current repairs have been focused on widening and refurbishing the bridge's approaches and ramps.