Tracking NJ's Great Leap Backwards: The Corzine Road Show

Gov. Corzine has been touring the state in an effort to garner support for his unpopular plan to bond against increased tolls in order to reduce state debt and fund transportation projects. On Monday, the Tri-State Campaign took a trip down to Camden to check out the show. Tri-State, along with many environmental groups […]

Behind the New York Budget Headlines

Governor Spitzer’s 2008-2009 executive budget released last week largely focuses on health care, education, and economic development, though a closer look offers a few noteworthy transportation items. Broadly, transportation has a decent showing in the budget, which calls for a 5% overall increase in spending.

In good news for congestion pricing advocates, the budget […]

Five Days Left for Jane Jacobs Medal Nominations

New York City’s livable streets community has no shortage of effective, enthusiastic advocates. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Municipal Art Society are offering an opportunity to recognize two by awarding them the second annual Jane Jacobs Medals (and $100,000 each!). Nominations should be submitted by February 4.

From the Municipal Art Society guidelines:

“The […]

ConnDOT Draft Report Talks Tolling, Smart Growth

The Governor’s Commission on the Reform of the Department of Transportation issued its final draft recommendation report earlier this month in Hartford. The Commission, created by Governor Rell in response to contracting irregularities along I-84, was tasked with providing steps to developing, according to the Governor, “a more responsible DOT, and a DOT that will continue to broaden its focus beyond highways.”

Tri-State Transportation Campaign has been very active in pushing for broad reforms within ConnDOT. This past fall, the Campaign held a press conference detailing a four point agenda that included a prioritizing a ‘Fix-it-First’ policy by shifting ConnDOT’s spending priorities from expansion and widening projects to maintaining existing roads and bridges, developing innovative methods to raise operational funding and incorporating smart growth principles into transportation planning.

Primarily, the report focuses on “transparency” and “accountability.” However, many of the Campaign’s ideas were included in the draft. Some highlights include:

Support for congestion pricing. The Commission recommended that ConnDOT examine new and innovative means of raising state and federal monies, recognizing that ConnDOT is overly dependent upon scarce federal transportation dollars, often in the form of unsustainable earmarks. The draft report not only supported the Transportation Strategy Board in its call for a congestion pricing study, but repeatedly brought up the possibility of tolling Connecticut’s roads and highways. Adopting this strategy would be progressive transportation policy and ensure a sustainable source of transportation system funding for the 21st century.

An unexpected recommendation concerning possible future funding was the proposal to create an Independent Transportation Authority and the partial privatization of transportation assets. This came as a surprise to the Campaign, especially considering the current row over asset monetization, a similar strategy, underway in New Jersey.

» Continue reading…

Index: Long Island Needs to Look Downtown for Solutions

More than one-third of Long Island residents would trade their single-family home for an apartment, condo or townhouse, according to the Long Island Index released this week by the Rauch Foundation. The 80-page report examines economic, population, housing, environmental, and other trends in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and finds that Long Island’s dependence on […]

Pricing Interim Report Blunts "Edge Effect" Argument

One of the key concerns expressed by community residents, advocacy groups, and elected officials about any congestion pricing proposal has been the impact on air quality from a perceived increase in vehicular traffic in their communities. The “periphery argument” reasons that drivers seeking to avoid the congestion fee will drive to just outside the […]

New Westchester Planning Process A Model For Cooperation

Last week Westchester County officials unveiled an exciting effort to better coordinate local and county land use planning. County Executive Andy Spano, Department of Planning Commissioner Gerard Mulligan, and County Planning Board Chair Cheryl Winter Lewy presented the draft of Westchester 2025, the county’s new master plan, to a standing-room-only crowd of elected and […]

Help Name Tri-State's Penn Station Campaign!

34th St. and 7th Ave., an intersection which will be further overloaded with pedestrian traffic after Moynihan Station is built.

Last month, MTR announced that the Tri-State Campaign would launch an advocacy campaign centered around the unfriendly pedestrian environment surrounding Penn Station. Commuters already deal with narrow and crowded sidewalks, insufficient crossing […]

NYSDOT to Build Tappan Zee Bridge First, Transit Second

Yesterday, NYSDOT announced that it was splitting the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 environmental review into two phases. The team will select a transit alternative by May of this year, then focus on bridge design. Construction on the replacement or rehabilitated bridge will begin by 2010, earlier than would otherwise be possible. A second environmental review […]

Presidential Views (or not) on Public Transportation

As the primary season continues, MTR decided to ask the question: To what extent does transportation factor into the political discourse of the U.S. presidential candidates? Though it’s unlikely that transportation and land use issues will end up determining the election, nearly all of the candidates list climate change or energy independence as key planks in their platforms (the main exception being Ron Paul, who told City Hall News that he had never used the NYC or Washington, D.C. subways because subsidized transit violated his libertarian principles; does he drive on [subsidized] highways?).

To date, only the three main Democratic candidates (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama) address the link between mass transit and smart growth on one hand and reduced automobile use and oil dependence on the other.

Hillary Clinton wants to increase federal funding for public transit by $1.5 billion per year. She mentions principles inherent in a smart growth approach to land use as she vows to encourage a shift away from commercial developments towards urban centers that balance residential, commercial, and transportation needs. She correctly points out that this will help discourage sprawl and fight congestion while also increasing mobility options for the elderly. She wants to invest an additional $1 billion in intercity passenger rail systems as this mode is a “critical component of the nation’s transportation system.”

John Edwards’ few sentences on transportation give a mere glimpse into his transportation priorities but he does reference smart growth and transit-oriented development and wants to create incentives to reduce vehicle-miles traveled in the US. He will “support more resources” to encourage greater mass transit use amongst workers and will encourage more affordable and environmentally sound transportation alternatives.

Barack Obama is the only candidate to connect transportation and economic access. He identifies lack of adequate public transportation as a barrier to low-income people seeking work and highlights the disproportionate share of income they spend on transportation. Like Clinton and Edwards, he wants to see increased transportation funding but he goes further by seeking to incentivize bike and pedestrian measures. He also wants to reform the tax code to equalize the commuter pre-tax benefits for parking and transit riding (currently, employees can use up to $220/month in pre-tax income for parking, but only $115/month for transit).

» Continue reading…