1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. Highway
  4. Article 9: Bridges


Section 234 Public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county, town, city or village bridges

Highway (HAY)

Public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county, town, city or village bridges. 1. a. All public authorities, public benefit corporations, commissions, county superintendents of highways, town superintendents of highways, and legislative bodies of cities and villages shall cause an inspection to be made of each bridge under their respective jurisdictions. Such inspection shall be made on a frequency and shall be conducted under standards prescribed by the commissioner pursuant to rules and regulations adopted in accordance with this article. Upon the request of the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county highway superintendent, town highway superintendent or appropriate city or village official, the department may make such inspection. If the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent or appropriate city or village official does not request such an inspection and the commissioner determines after suitable investigation that the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent, or city or village official has not complied with the rules and regulations of the department adopted in accordance with this article for the inspection of bridges, and after due notice, the commissioner shall cause such inspection to be made. After such inspection the bridge shall have the same status with respect to maintenance and liability as it had prior to inspection.

  b. The cost of the inspection of any bridge owned by a public authority or a public benefit corporation shall be the responsibility of such public authority or public benefit corporation. If such public authority or public benefit corporation fails to reimburse the department for such reasonable and necessary costs after due notice as provided by rules and regulations, the commissioner is hereby authorized and empowered to commence an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect any money owed by such public authority or public benefit corporation for such inspections.

  c. Once the department has conducted an inspection of any bridge it shall continue to make subsequent inspections of such bridge as may be required; however, if the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent or appropriate city or village official notifies the commissioner that such public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, or local jurisdiction desires henceforth to make such inspection and demonstrates to the commissioner that it has the means to do so in accordance with the provisions of this article and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent, or city or village official shall reassume responsibility for such inspection.

  2. a. If the result of an inspection indicates that a bridge is unsafe for public use and travel with legal weights, or if posted, with such posted weights, the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent or city or village official shall close it to all traffic and shall notify the department of that fact. The appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county superintendent, town superintendent or city or village official shall thereupon cause to be posted conspicuous notices on such bridge and also on the approaches thereto to the effect that the bridge is closed to all traffic and shall at the same time cause to be erected suitable barricades for closing such bridge, including the necessary lights which shall be visible to any one approaching such barricades from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Neither the county nor the town nor any other public entity shall be responsible for any damages which may result to any person entering on or traveling over such bridge after the posting of such notices and the erection of such barricades.

  b. If the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county, town, city or village fails to close such a bridge, the department is hereby authorized and directed to close and barricade such bridge in accordance with the provisions of this article and rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, and any reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the department shall be the responsibility of and paid for by the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, or municipality. If such public authority, public benefit corporation, commission or municipality fails to reimburse the department or division for such costs after due notice as provided by rule and regulation, the commissioner is authorized to pursue all available remedies including but not limited to commencing an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect any such money owed by a public authority, public benefit corporation, commission or municipality.

  3. a. If a bridge is found to require a load capacity evaluation, it shall be the responsibility of the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county highway superintendent, town highway superintendent or city or village official to determine the total safe load which may be permitted to pass over such bridge and such public entity or the appropriate public official shall notify the department of such determination. Such load capacity evaluation must be performed by a licensed professional engineer. No person shall drive animals or operate a vehicle or combination of vehicles on or across any such bridge the total weight of which, on said bridge at any one time, shall exceed the total safe load as sign posted. It shall thereupon be the duty of the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county highway superintendent, town highway superintendent or city or village official, with respect to structures under their respective jurisdictions, to post signs to inform persons of the safe load permitted on such bridge. The type and manner of placement of such signs shall conform to the manual and specifications of the department. Neither the state nor any other public entity shall be responsible for any damages which may result to vehicles or animals of a greater weight upon such bridge than that indicated on the signs.

  b. If the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission, county, town, city or village fails to determine the safe load capacity and, if appropriate, post the total safe load which may be permitted to pass over a bridge within sixty days of being notified that a load capacity evaluation is required, the commissioner may, close the bridge in accordance with the provisions of this article and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto and any reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the department shall be the responsibility of and paid for by the appropriate public authority, public benefit corporation, commission or municipality. If such public authority, public benefit corporation, commission or municipality fails to reimburse the department or division for such costs after due notice as provided by rule and regulation, the commissioner is authorized to pursue all available remedies including but not limited to commencing an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect any such money owed by a public authority, public benefit corporation, commission or municipality.

  4. If a bridge having a span less than twenty-five feet is condemned, the county superintendent shall without delay cause to be prepared plans, specifications and estimates for the repair, alteration or reconstruction of such bridge and approaches thereto or for the construction of a bridge and approaches thereto on new location.

  The cost of preparing such plans, specifications and estimates, if any, may be paid by the treasurer of the county on the order of the county superintendent, together with an itemized statement of such costs, from any money of the county appropriated for the construction of bridges. On or before the thirty-first day of October in each year the county treasurer shall report the amount of such expenditures to the town superintendent of highways of the town in which such bridges are located and the amount thereof shall be included in the estimate of expenditures for highways and bridges required to be prepared by the town superintendent of highways and shall thereafter be paid by the supervisor upon a voucher approved by the town superintendent of highways after audit in the same manner as other charges against the town to the county treasurer from taxes levied and collected for that purpose.

  5. If a bridge having a span less than twenty-five feet has been inspected by the county superintendent and posted by the town superintendent as safe for restricted use, it shall be the responsibility of the town to maintain the structure in a proper condition of repair for safe usage by the public in accordance with the posted limits of loads and speed.

  6. Any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more, which has been inspected by the county superintendent of highways, may be taken over by the county under official order of the county superintendent of highways. Otherwise its status shall remain the same as bridges having less than twenty-five feet span. If a bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more has been taken over by the county under official order, it shall be repaired, altered, reconstructed or constructed on new location under the direction of the county superintendent of highways. Upon the issuing of such official order the county superintendent shall without delay cause to be prepared plans, specifications and estimates for the repair, alteration or reconstruction of such bridge or for the construction of a bridge on new location and it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors forthwith to undertake such repair, alteration, reconstruction or construction work. The county in which such bridge having been taken over by the county superintendent of highways is located shall pay the cost of such repair, alteration, construction or reconstruction and the board of supervisors of such county is hereby authorized to provide funds for such purposes in accordance with the provisions of the highway law relating to the raising of moneys for the construction, reconstruction or repair of county roads and town highways.

  Payment of such construction, reconstruction or maintenance shall be made as follows:

  Where the construction, reconstruction or maintenance is done by contract, from time to time as the work proceeds, and in accordance with rules to be established by the commissioner of transportation, the county superintendent of highways shall prepare a voucher showing the value of the work completed and a verified certificate showing that such work was done in accordance with the plans and specifications. Such voucher and certificate shall be filed with the county treasurer. In the event that the work was done by county forces, a similar voucher for the work done, including material furnished, and a similar certificate shall be filed with the county treasurer. The county treasurer, on such voucher shall, in cases where the work has been done by contract, pay out of the money provided an amount not exceeding ninety per centum, or in a case where the bond is dispensed with, eighty per centum, of the contract price of such completed work; and where the work has been done by county forces shall pay the full amount of such voucher. The balance of the contract price shall be paid after the completion of the work when the same has been accepted by the county superintendent by a certificate and voucher filed in the office of the county treasurer.

  The county superintendent may, pending the preparation of said plans, specifications and estimates and pending the performance of the duty of the board of supervisors as above prescribed, and subject to the monetary limitations as hereinafter set forth, make such emergency repairs to such bridges or build temporary structures thereat, as he deems necessary without the approval and the adoption of a resolution by the board of supervisors previous to the performance of such work; and the board of supervisors may cause such a sum of money to be raised as it deems necessary for the purpose of the construction, reconstruction or repairs, and for such other purposes for bridges as are required by law, under the direction and supervision of the county superintendent. It shall be the duty of the county treasurer to pay for any such emergency work from said money upon the submission to him of an itemized statement of all such expenditures connected therewith upon the order of the county superintendent.

  In case of an emergency if the appropriation for bridge purposes is exhausted or insufficient the county treasurer may pay from any unobligated balance in the county road fund and the board of supervisors shall, at its first subsequent meeting, appropriate a sufficient amount to reimburse the county road fund for money so expended. The county treasurer shall report the receipts and expenditures pursuant to this section at the same time and in the same manner that he is required to do by the provisions of article six of the highway law. Such account shall be subject to audit by the board of supervisors and may be examined by the state comptroller at any time.

  7. If a bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more has been taken over by the county on the official order of the county superintendent of highways and posted by the town superintendent as safe for restricted use, it shall be the responsibility of the county to maintain the structure in a proper condition of repair for safe usage by the public in accordance with the posted limits of loads and speeds.

  8. Any bridge having a span of less than twenty-five feet as provided in this section shall be maintained at the expense of the town in which such bridge is located. Any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more built in accordance with the provisions of this section and located upon a county road shall be maintained by the county in which such bridge is located. All other bridges built by the county under this section shall be maintained by the county excepting that the floor or wearing surface of such bridges shall be maintained by the towns in which they are located.

  9. If a bridge having a span less than twenty-five feet is located in more than one town, the procedure in this section shall apply equally to such towns and town superintendents affected.

  If a bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more is located in more than one county, the procedure in this section shall apply equally to such counties and county superintendents.

  Such portions of the highway law relating to bridges located in more than one town or more than one county shall apply in so far as the same is not inconsistent with other provisions of this section.

  For the purposes of this section, a bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or more shall be considered a structure wherein the horizontal distance from face to face of abutments at the bridge seat elevation is not less than twenty-five feet.

  10. Upon the recommendation of the county superintendent, the board of supervisors may, at any time, by resolution, take over any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or over which is on a town highway or any town bridge over twenty-five feet long located within an incorporated village, although such bridge may not have been condemned, for the purpose of maintaining and preserving the same under the supervision of the county superintendent. Upon the adoption of such a resolution the clerk of the board of supervisors shall mail a certified copy of the resolution to the county superintendent, the county treasurer and the supervisor of the town within which such bridge is located, which copy shall be filed by each of said officers in his office. Such resolution shall also appropriate and make immediately available to the order of the county superintendent from county funds, such sum as may be deemed necessary for the preservation or maintenance of such bridges, and it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors to appropriate and make available to the order of the county superintendent from time to time from county funds such sums as may become necessary for the preservation and maintenance of such bridges. Any bridge taken over by the county pursuant to this section shall be under the direct supervision of the county superintendent of highways and if a bridge is a draw-bridge or of a nature that requires the services of an operator or attendant, such operator or attendant shall be employed by the county superintendent of highways and paid out of county funds appropriated for the maintenance of bridges.

  11. (a) Upon the recommendation of the county superintendent that any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or over, which is on a county road or a town highway, has become useless and not necessary for the public convenience and welfare, the board of supervisors, to promote the interests of the county, upon a resolution adopted by a majority of the members of such board, may authorize, empower and direct the county superintendent acting for and in behalf of such board, to make an order abandoning any such bridge, provided, however, that such order shall become effective if and when he shall have obtained a written release from all damages from the owners of the land adjacent to the section of the highway upon which such bridge is located between lateral intersecting highways affected thereby. Such release shall contain a provision that it shall forever be binding upon and in full force and effect against the owner, his lessees, grantees, assigns, successors, heirs and devisees and such release shall, when recorded and indexed as hereinafter prescribed, be so binding. Said release shall be duly acknowledged in the manner to entitle a conveyance transferring any estate in real property to be recorded and it shall be recorded and indexed in the county clerk's office in which the lands described in a release are located as a conveyance under the real property law.

  (b) The county superintendent, with the approval of the chairman of the board of supervisors and the county judge, may agree with such owner or owners upon the amount of consideration for such releases in a gross sum not to exceed five thousand dollars. An order of the county superintendent as herein provided shall be final. The amount agreed upon to be paid to such owners for such releases and the cost of the removal of such useless bridge and/or the cost for the erection of obstructions or barricades shall be a county charge and may by resolution of the board of supervisors be paid from any funds of the county that may be legally used for such purpose or may be raised, in whole or in part, pursuant to the local finance law. Whenever the money to be paid for such releases is available the county treasurer shall pay to the said owners executing said releases the amounts agreed upon to be paid to them for said releases upon the requisition of the county superintendent.

  (c) It shall be the duty of the county superintendent upon the making of an order of abandonment to file the same in the office of the clerk of the board of supervisors and to file copies thereof certified by the clerk of the board of supervisors in the town clerk's office of the town or towns in which such useless bridge or part thereof is situated, and he shall send two such certified copies of said order to the department of transportation. Upon the filing of said order it shall be the duty of the county superintendent to erect at and across each end of such useless bridge a suitable substantial barricade or obstruction to close such bridge and for the prevention of further use thereof and passage thereon or thereto and there shall be installed suitable signs, the type and manner of placement of which shall conform to the New York State manual of uniform traffic control devices. If such bridge is taken down, the county superintendent shall place like obstructions or barricades at the ends of the portions of the highway at the places where the highway joined such bridge. The county superintendent shall also erect suitable signs at lateral intersecting highways which in his judgment afford most convenient detours to another bridge or bridges to be used by the traveling public instead of such abandoned bridge. The cost of such signs, their erection and maintenance shall be paid for in the manner provided for the payment of the barricades and obstructions as aforesaid.

  12. Upon the written recommendation of the county superintendent that any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or over, which is on a county road or town highway, has become useless and not necessary for the public convenience and welfare, the board of supervisors, upon a finding by resolution of the town board as to any such bridge on a town highway, or upon a finding by resolution of such board of supervisors as to any such bridge on a county road, to promote the interests of the county, may, upon a resolution adopted by a majority of the members of such board, order and direct the county superintendent to abandon such bridge on a county road or town highway and to erect suitable barricades for closing such bridge and also signs in relation to such abandonment as are prescribed for the abandonment of a useless bridge in the last above preceding subdivision of this section.

  The clerk of the board of supervisors shall forthwith serve a certified copy of such resolution on the county superintendent and thereupon the county superintendent shall make, in duplicate, a written order of abandonment of such bridge and file one of them in his office and one of them in the office of the clerk of the board of supervisors, who shall forthwith make and certify copies of such resolution and of such order and file the same in the town clerk's office of the town or towns in which said useless bridge is situated and shall mail two certified copies of such resolution and of such order to the state department of transportation. Upon the county superintendent making and filing such order of abandonment, he shall forthwith permanently and substantially barricade such bridge to public highway uses and purposes, or remove the bridge and build sufficient permanent and substantial barricades across the road or highway at the points where entrance was made upon the bridge, and the cost and expense thereof shall be a county charge, to be paid by the county treasurer upon the order of the county superintendent.

  If the board of supervisors or the county superintendent, for and in behalf of the board, is unable to obtain releases from all damages, not exceeding the amounts prescribed in the last preceding subdivision of this section, from owners of the land adjacent to the section of the road or highway upon which such abandoned bridge is located, lying between such bridge and intersecting roads or highways, such owners of lands shall be entitled to recover from the county the damages resulting from the abandonment of such bridge. Any such owner claiming damages from such abandonment of such bridge may, within ninety days after such bridge has been barricaded against or removed from the public use, apply to the supreme court at a special term thereof to be held in the judicial district in which the county is located for the appointment of three commissioners of appraisal to determine and assess the damages to which he is entitled to be paid by the county. Notice of application must be served upon the chairman of the board of supervisors at least ten days before the hearing thereof. The commissioners of appraisal shall be taxpayers of such county but shall not reside in the town in which such abandoned bridge is or was situated. All proceedings subsequent to the appointment of commissioners of appraisal shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of the condemnation law so far as applicable. The commissioners of appraisal, appointed as herein provided, for each day necessarily employed as such shall each be entitled to fifteen dollars and his necessary expenses, which shall be a county charge to be audited by the board of supervisors or a committee thereof and paid by the county treasurer upon the order of the board by its chairman.

  If such bridge is over the county boundary line between two counties, the aforesaid abandonment proceedings, steps and measures may be taken in, for and by the respective counties for the abandonment of such useless bridge, and the cost and expense thereof shall be at the joint cost and expense of such counties, excepting, however, that each county shall severally pay the cost of obtaining releases for damages or the damages determined and assessed by the commissioners of appraisal in connection with the lands in each county affected as herein specified.

  12-a. Upon the recommendation of the county superintendent that any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or over which is on a town highway outside of a city, and which is not on the improved state system of highways, or any such bridge which is under the supervision of the town superintendent of highways, located within an incorporated village, and which has been condemned by the county superintendent of highways under the provisions of subdivisions one and two of this section, and which has not been taken over by the county under the official order of the county superintendent of highways pursuant to subdivision six of this section, has become useless and not necessary for the public convenience and welfare, the board of supervisors, to promote the interest of the county may, upon a resolution adopted by a majority of the members of such board, order and direct the county superintendent to abandon such bridge on a town highway or any such bridge which is under the supervision of the town superintendent of highways located within an incorporated village, and to erect suitable barricades for closing such bridge, and also signs in relation to such abandonment, as are prescribed for the abandonment of a useless bridge in subdivision eleven above.

  The clerk of the board of supervisors shall forthwith serve a certified copy of such resolution on the county superintendent and thereupon the county superintendent shall make, in duplicate, a written order of abandonment of such bridge pursuant to the provisions of this subdivision and file one of them in his office and one of them in the office of the clerk of the board of supervisors, who shall forthwith make and certify copies of such resolution and of such order and file the same in the town clerk's office of the town or towns in which said useless bridge is situated and shall mail two certified copies of such resolution and of such order to the state department of transportation. Upon the county superintendent making and filing such order of abandonment, he shall forthwith permanently and substantially barricade such bridge to public highway uses and purposes, or remove the bridge and build sufficient permanent or substantial barricades across the road or highway at the points where entrance was made upon the bridge, and the cost and expense thereof shall be a county charge, to be paid by the county treasurer, upon the order of the county superintendent.

  If the board of supervisors or the county superintendent, for and in behalf of the board is unable to obtain releases from all damages not exceeding the amounts prescribed in subdivision eleven of this section, from owners of the land adjacent to the section of the road or highway upon which such abandoned bridge is located, lying between such bridge and intersecting roads or highways, such owners of lands shall be entitled to recover from the county the damages resulting from the abandonment of such bridge. Any such owner claiming damages from such abandonment of such bridge may, within ninety days after the filing of the order of abandonment authorized by this subdivision in such town clerk's office, apply to the supreme court at a special term thereof, to be held in the judicial district in which the county is located, for the appointment of three commissioners of appraisal to determine and assess the damages to which he is entitled to be paid by the county. Notice of application must be served upon the chairman of the board of supervisors at least ten days before the hearing thereof.

  If, within said period of ninety days such owner does not so apply to the supreme court for the appointment of commissioners of appraisal to assess said damages, then the board of supervisors may so apply to the supreme court at a special term thereof, to be held in the judicial district in which the county is located, for the appointment of three commissioners of appraisal to determine and assess the damages to which said owner or owners are entitled to be paid by the county. Notice of such appointment must be served upon said owner or owners at least ten days before the hearing thereof.

  The commissioners of appraisal shall be taxpayers of such county, but shall not reside in the town in which such abandoned bridge is or was situated. All proceedings subsequent to the appointment of commissioners of appraisal shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of the condemnation law, so far as applicable. The commissioners of appraisal, appointed as herein provided, for each day necessarily employed as such, shall be entitled to fifteen dollars and his necessary expenses, which shall be a county charge, to be audited by the board of supervisors and paid by the county treasurer after audit thereof.

  13. Notwithstanding the provisions in this section or elsewhere in this chapter, the board of supervisors of Genesee county, Wyoming county and/or Sullivan county, at any time, upon recommendation of the county superintendent, may take over any bridge having a span of five feet or over which is on a town highway or any town bridge over five feet long located within a village, although such bridge may not have been condemned, for the purpose of maintaining and preserving the same under the supervision of the county superintendent. Upon the adoption of such resolution, the procedure thereafter shall conform to the provisions of this section relating to bridges on town highways and town bridges in villages having a span of twenty-five feet or over and the bridges taken over as herein provided thereafter shall be under the direct supervision of the county superintendent of highways and the cost of maintenance thereof shall be paid from county funds appropriated for the maintenance of bridges.

  14. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a county may contribute funds to a city, town or village towards its fifteen per centum share of the cost of reconstructing a railroad bridge as required by subdivision three of section ninety-four of the railroad law whether or not the road, of which the bridge is a part, is under the jurisdiction of a city, village, town or county and regardless of who performs the work.

  15. In the county of Washington, the provisions of this section otherwise applicable to bridges having a span of twenty-five feet or more shall apply to bridges having a span of twenty feet or more.

  16. In the county of Delaware, the provisions of this section otherwise applicable to bridges having a span of twenty-five feet or more shall apply to bridges having a span of twenty feet or more and the deck or wearing surface of such bridges shall be the responsibility of such county.

  17. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the board of supervisors of Saratoga county, upon the recommendation of the county superintendent, may, at any time, by resolution, take over any bridge having a span of twenty-five feet or over which is on a village highway or any village bridge, over twenty-five feet long located within an incorporated village, although such bridge may not have been condemned, for the purpose of maintaining and preserving the same under the supervision of the county superintendent. Upon the adoption of such a resolution the clerk of the board of supervisors shall mail a certified copy of the resolution to the county superintendent, the county treasurer and the mayor of the village within which such bridge is located, which copy shall be filed by each of said officers in his office.

  Such resolution shall also appropriate and make immediately available to the order of the county superintendent from county funds, such sum as may be deemed necessary for the preservation or maintenance of such bridges, and it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors to appropriate and make available to the order of the county superintendent from time to time from county funds such sums as may become necessary for the preservation and maintenance of such bridges. Any bridge taken over by the county pursuant to this section shall be under the direct supervision of the county superintendent of highways and if a bridge is a draw-bridge or of a nature that requires the services of an operator or attendant, such operator or attendant shall be employed by the county superintendent of highways and paid out of county funds appropriated for the maintenance of bridges.