State departments of transportation have a tremendous amount of influence on how roads are designed and how people get around. And since the passage of the new federal transportation law, MAP-21, state departments of transportation will control half of each state’s Transportation Alternatives funding. In light of that, Tri-State looked to see if — and to what extent — state departments of transportation lead by example. Specifically, how walkable are the locations of state department of transportation (DOT) headquarters, and what does this tell us about that state’s transportation priorities?
Using Walk Score as our measuring tool, we found that in the tri-state region, none of the New York, Connecticut or New Jersey DOT headquarters are located in particularly walkable areas. Walk Score ranks a given location on a scale of 0 – 100 based on the number, variety and proximity of amenities (shops, restaurants, schools, parks, etc.) that are within about a mile radius. Walk Score won’t tell you if there are adequate sidewalks and crosswalks or if it’s an appealing place to walk.
Out of the three states, the New York State Department of Transportation’s main office on Wolf Road in Albany came out on top with a 72 (“Very Walkable”) Walk Score, thanks to its location across the street from the Colonie Center Mall. This highlights a classic example of one of Walk Score’s shortcomings: although NYSDOT headquarters is close (as the crow flies) to several restaurants and other businesses, Wolf Road, a five-lane arterial on the western edge of Albany, isn’t exactly teeming with pedestrian activity. Still, one would expect the DOT of the nation’s third most-populous state (in a city of nearly 100,000 people) would be in a more walkable location than the Kansas DOT in Topeka.
Connecticut’s Department of Transportation headquarters isn’t even in the capital city. Instead, ConnDOT’s offices (Walk Score 63, or “Somewhat Walkable”) are located southwest of Hartford in sprawling Newington on Berlin Turnpike, a divided arterial road. ConnDOT’s offices are located in an area that, according to Walk Score, is just a shade less walkable than Florida DOT‘s headquarters in Tallahassee.
Fortunately, Governor Dannel Malloy has been talking in recent months about relocating some State offices to downtown Hartford as part of an effort to boost the city’s economy while meeting sustainable development goals.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation fared worst of the three tri-state DOT headquarters. The David J. Goldberg Transportation Complex on Parkway Avenue in Trenton scored a “Somewhat Walkable” 52 which, according to Walk Score, is just as walkable as the location of Ohio DOT‘s central office in sprawling Columbus. And while it may have the lowest Walk Score of the three tri-state DOTs, it comes nowhere close to Maryland DOT’s headquarters.
DOTs in Paradise
While there are plenty of state DOTs with Walk Scores as low (or lower) than the tri-state region’s DOTs, there are a few states whose DOTs are located in a “Walker’s Paradise” (90 or higher): PennDOT in Harrisburg and NCDOT in Raleigh both registered Walk Scores of 91, Texas DOT in Austin scored a 95, and Tennessee DOT in Nashville scored a 98. The only DOT headquarters to score a perfect 100 is MassDOT in Boston.
Tri-State also looked up the Walk Scores for each of New York State DOT’s 11 Regional Offices. The Region 1 office in Schenectady came out on top with a 94, while Region 10’s Hauppauge (Long Island) office came in a distant 11th with a “Car Dependent” Walk Score of 40. No other NY regional offices scored below 50.
- 94 — Region 1 (328 State St, Schenectady)
- 92 — Region 7 (317 Washington St, Watertown)
- 88 — Region 11 (51-40 21st St, Queens)
- 87 — Region 9 (44 Hawley St, Binghamton)
- 86 — Region 5 (100 Seneca St, Buffalo)
- 85 — Region 2 (207 Genesee St, Utica)
- 80 — Region 3 (333 E Washington St, Syracuse)
- 77 — Region 8 (4 Burnett Blvd, Poughkeepsie)
- 72 — Region 6 (107 Broadway, Hornell)
- 55 — Region 4 (1530 Jefferson Rd, Rochester)
- 40 — Region 10 (250 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Hauppauge)