TSTC Says Loophole in New NYSDOT Policy Undermines New York’s Complete Streets Law

Filed Under: Advocacy & Policy, Bike Friendly Cities, Local Communities
Post By: jwilson
Posted On: August 15, 2013

Source of this excerpt:  Mobilizing the Region: News and Opinion from the Tri State Transportation Campaign (TSTC)

by Nadine Lemmon

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) recently issued a draft plan of transportation projects it will be tackling from 2014-2017. This draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) will encompass more than $32 billion in federal, state and local funds, and is the best “blueprint” for what the State’s transportation priorities will be in the near future. Unfortunately for pedestrians and bicyclists, who jointly represent 27 percent of the total fatalities on New York’s roads, it doesn’t look like they are high on NYSDOT’s priority list.

The core of the problem may lie with NYSDOT’s new “Preservation First” policy.

In the fall of 2012, NYSDOT issued a STIP guide document to the 14 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across the state to help guide their decisions on what projects will get built, and what projects will not. The document outlined what the agency called a “fundamental shift” in the philosophy and principles behind how New York State “develops, programs and funds transportation infrastructure.” Called the “primary focus” of four guiding principles, this new “Preservation First” policy emphasizes fixing existing transportation infrastructure before building new or expanded infrastructure. While Tri-State supports fix-it-first policies like Preservation First as the most efficient use of limited resources, a loophole in the policy appears to be preserving not just 1950s-era infrastructure, but also a 1950s-era mentality. In other words, cars first, with pedestrians and bicyclists fighting for scraps.

The intent of New York State’s Complete Streets law was to make consideration of pedestrian and bicycling facilities a routine part of rebuilding our crumbling transportation system. The intent of NYSDOT’s “Preservation First” policy is to rebuild what we have, the way we have it now. The two policies simply do not match, and Governor Cuomo should retroactively make sure that they do.

Read the entire post on Mobilizing the Region, Tri State Transportation Campaign’s blog.