Dutchess County – County Bridge Maintenance (S9-13-5)

Issued Date
July 19, 2013

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether counties are properly maintaining their bridges to ensure the safety of those who travel on them for the period January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2011.


The County covers 796 square miles and has approximately 298,000 residents. The County is governed by a 25-member County Legislature. The County’s budgeted expenditures totaled $411 million in 2012.

The County is governed by a 25-member County Legislature (Legislature). The County Executive is the chief executive officer and is responsible, along with other administrative staff, for the County’s day-to-day management. The DPW is responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of bridges. The DPW includes a professional engineer who is directly involved with the oversight of bridges. The DPW operating budget was $11.4 million for the 2012 fiscal year. The DPW is responsible for the maintenance and repair of approximately 150 County-owned bridges, including 12 pedestrian bridges.

Key Findings

  • Although the County has not developed a written plan for bridge maintenance and repair, it has taken action in recent years to improve and maintain bridge ratings.
  • We tested the flags issued during the last five years of our audit period to determine if the County complied with NYSDOT’s response and action requirements. Of the 83 flags we tested, the County lacked sufficient documentation for nine flags. We could not determine if the County had responded to these nine flags in a timely manner. For the remaining 74 flags for which the County provided documentation, the County responded in a timely manner to 40 flags, and failed to respond in a timely manner to 34 flags. Of these 34 flags, four were red, which indicates that structural failure was a potential outcome before the next bridge inspection. The County’s response to these four flags was an average of 37 days later (79 days) than NYSDOT’s six-week response requirement.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish a written plan for bridge maintenance and replacement.
  • Record and monitor repairs and maintenance by bridge.
  • Ensure that bridge flags are responded to within the NYSDOT required timeframe. Ensure that response letters to NYSDOT are maintained.