A First Glimpse of Cuomo's Transportation Policies

Over the weekend, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo formally announced his campaign for Governor, saying he would clean up Albany and reduce government waste. Transportation wasn’t specifically mentioned, but a quick look at his campaign website offers some tidbits about what transportation policy could look like under a Cuomo Administration.

Cuomo, at the news conference announcing his candidacy for governor.

“Even during the current fiscal emergency, we must continue to make long term investments in our critical transportation infrastructure,” is the first line in a small section on transportation in the candidate’s 225-page platform, The New New York Agenda: A Plan for Action.

Cuomo promises to establish a state infrastructure bank to better coordinate spending between agencies and help pay for projects that would otherwise go unfunded, and to ensure 100-mile-per-hour rail service between New York City and Albany. He subtly chides the current administration for only receiving $151 million in federal high speed rail funds because the projects were not “shovel ready.”

Citing Regional Plan Association’s research which has said airline delays cost the region $2.6 billion annually, he promises next-generation air traffic control, improved ground transport management and an expansion of Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley.

He cites the frequent transfer of transportation funds for general operating expenses as a symptom of the state’s reliance on financial gimmicks and one-shot revenues.

Could New York see a consolidation of control of transportation policy under Cuomo? It’s possible. “Transportation policy is fragmented between 54 public authorities,” says the New NY Agenda, noting that this is the case even though the NYS Department of Transportation was established in 1967 to develop a state vision for transportation policy.

A section on reorganizing and consolidating local governments may be of interest to smart growth advocates frustrated by the complexity of the current municipal system, in which overlapping services and administrations in Counties, Towns, and Villages force higher property taxes and frustrate development efforts. Cuomo recommends establishing $100,000 grants for communities willing to merge or dissolve their local governments; the grants would pay for reorganization studies showing how a merger could be carried out and what the costs and benefits would be.

Photo: AP/Louis Lanzano.

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