Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance

Issued Date
May 26, 2015
New York State Canal Corporation


To determine whether the New York State Canal Corporation’s (Corporation) inspection scheduling procedures ensure that all high- and intermediate-importance structures are periodically inspected and whether inspection results are considered when maintenance activities are prioritized. The audit covers the period January 2012 through October 2014.


The Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority (Thruway Authority), was created in 1992 to operate and maintain the New York State Canal System (Canal System). The Canal Law requires the Corporation to maintain the Canal System in good condition. The Corporation’s Canal Structure Inspection Manual-95 has established inspection requirements and frequency standards, including in-depth inspections (Inspections) – both above and below water – of structural safety and integrity on a 2-year cycle. Of the 2,065 structures the Corporation is required to inspect, 747 are deemed “critical” (e.g., dams and locks).

Key Findings

  • While the Corporation does perform routine operational and reliability checks of the Canal System’s critical structures, it has not performed the two-year Inspections of a significant number of these structures. In fact, some structures that the Corporation’s infrastructure management system identifies as critical have not had an Inspection in many years – and some not at all.
  • The Corporation’s process for determining Inspection and maintenance priorities is inconsistent, and the basis for decisions is sometimes unclear. In numerous instances, we found no evidence that the Inspection results were considered when determining maintenance priorities. Thus, there is a risk the structures most in need of repair were not given priority.
  • Despite the low rating of many of its critical structures, funding shortages have greatly inhibited the Corporation’s ability to address its priority maintenance needs, especially after the damage inflicted by major storms in recent years.

Key Recommendations

  • Promptly conduct Inspections of any high- and intermediate-importance structures that have never had Inspections or where significant time has elapsed since the last Inspection.
  • Improve the clarity and effectiveness of the Inspection scheduling process for high- and intermediate-importance structures.
  • Work with the Thruway Authority to develop a realistic, long-term, detailed strategic and financing plan aimed at improving the overall condition of the Canal System’s infrastructure while also dealing with emergency response.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Thruway Authority: Inspecting Highway Bridges and Repairing Defects (2012-S-33)
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: Inspecting Highway Bridges and Repairing Defects (2012-S-34)

John Buyce

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236