According to a New York State Budget Bulletin released November 4, all agency projects “not involving Federal reimbursement of at least 75 percent or impacting public health and/or safety” will be subject to a pre-approval process for moving forward. For Long Island, this means that many ill-advised road expansion projects, some of which Tri-State and allies have been fighting against for over a decade, have been postponed indefinitely.
The Long Island Business News reports that among the scrapped projects is “the widening of Route 110 between the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State Parkway in Melville and portions of Route 112 in Medford and Coram” (for background, see MTR # 359). LIBN indicates “the cuts were made as a reaction to the recently released ‘Mid-Year Financial Plan Update,’ which projected a state budget gap of $1.5 billion in the current year and $12.5 billion for 2009-10.”
In addition, the long opposed widening of Route 347 through the Towns of Islip, Smithtown and Brookhaven (see MTR #s 269, 278, 537; “NYSDOT Smart Growth Test” [July '08]) seems to fall under this directive, which comes from the New York State Division of the Budget and the Office of the Director of State Operations.
The Bulletin indicates that NYSDOT (and other agencies) can request that a project move forward if a “compelling case” can be made for the capital spending–a case that, in addition to the safety and spending aspects of the project, would have to justify the project’s importance to the core mission of the agency.
Considering that the transportation policy worldviews of Albany NYSDOT and the Long Island regional office (Region 10) have been diametrically opposed recently, with Albany embracing smart growth and Region 10 not, it seems Region 10 will be hard pressed to provide such a case for all the poorly planned expansion projects in the region.
And while the struggling economy is to blame for scrapping these projects, hopefully this can serve as a catalyst for reform at Region 10 that will produce long-lasting change at an agency that has overly emphasized increasing road capacity at the expense of maintaining and repairing its existing infrastructure and alternative transportation systems like cycling and walking.
Image: via NYSDOT.