Lewis County – County Bridge Maintenance (S9-13-3)

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 1,274 square miles and has approximately 27,000 residents. The County is governed by a 10-member County Legislature. The County’s budgeted expenditures totaled $41 million in 2012.

The County Highway Department is responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of bridges. This Department includes a Highway Superintendent and a contracted professional engineer, both who are directly involved with the oversight of bridges. The Department’s operating budget was $6.7 million for the 2012 fiscal year. The Department is responsible for the maintenance and repair of approximately 92 County-owned bridges. It is not fiscally responsible for other bridges in the County.

Key Findings

  • The County does not have a written plan for bridge maintenance and repairs. Despite this shortcoming, the County maintained average bridge ratings and a consistent level of funding for bridge maintenance, repairs, and replacements during the audit period.
  • The County received a relatively consistent number of flags from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), with an average of nine flags per year over the years reviewed. Of the 51 flags issued, County officials could not produce documentation for 12 flags. Therefore, we could not determine if the County had responded to these flags in a timely manner. For the remaining 39 flags, the County responded to 38 flags in a timely manner. The one remaining flag that was not responded to in a timely manner was a red flag, indicating that structural failure was a potential outcome before the next bridge inspection. However the County’s response time to this flag was only eight days later (50 days) than NYSDOT’s six-week response requirement.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish a written plan for bridge maintenance and replacement.
  • Ensure that bridge flags are responded to within the NYSDOT required timeframe.