New York State Bridge Scour Program

New York has announced a program to upgrade 105 critical bridges across the state by repairing existing scour damage and increasing resilience to future damage from floods and extreme weather events.  The Bridge Scour Program will ensure that the essential transportation infrastructure remains safe and provides access for emergency responders during the severe weather events that have become more common in New York and may further increase in frequency and severity under future climate conditions.

The 105 bridges in the Bridge Scour Program were identified by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) as the most at-risk of repeated flooding.  Although the bridges identified in the Program are currently safe and functioning, they are becoming more vulnerable to scour damage from high velocity water as major storms and flood events increase in frequency and are anticipated to become more frequent and severe.  Bridge scour occurs when fast-flowing water erodes away structural support materials, such as sand and rocks, from bridge foundations and piers.  Scour is considered one of the three primary causes of bridge failure.

The Bridge Scour Program is an important component of New York’s strategy to become more resilient to future climate challenges.  In the 2014 New York State Hazard Mitigation Plan, the state lists the need to conduct “scour studies on critical bridges,” and includes a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)-funded NYSDOT project to conduct scour studies on bridges to prioritize those in need of critical repair as an action to mitigate climate risks.

The Bridge Scour Program began with Governor Cuomo’s 2013 call for projects to be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The HMGP is authorized by FEMA to help increase states’ resiliency to and reduce the risk of loss and damage from future disasters.  The 105 bridges proposed by New York are being considered by FEMA for HMGP funding, which may fund $388 million of the total cost of $518 million for the Bridge Scour Program. The federal funding will help local governments and nonprofit organizations to rebuild more resilient communities.  The Bridge Scour Program identified critical bridges in 78 communities in 30 counties across the state. 

Since announcing the Program, New York has received several rounds of HMGP funding from FEMA to proceed with strengthening scour-critical bridges in the Program. FEMA has approved funding incrementally for updating bridges based on need, with construction on 80 bridges totaling $278.4 million approved as of April 2015. In spring of 2015, NYSDOT began work on over a dozen of these bridge replacement projects to improve the resilience of some of the most critical and floodprone bridges.

The Bridge Scour Program is a collaboration between NYSDOT, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYSDHSES), Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (NYSGOSR), and local governments.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 22, 2016.


Publication Date: January 2014

Related Organizations:

  • New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT)
  • State of New York


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Funding program

States Affected:


Go To Resource