How Walkable is your State DOT Headquarters?

NYSDOT

NYSDOT’s headquarters are sandwiched between a shopping center and an interstate.

ConnDOT

ConnDOT’s headquarters are located on a divided arterial, but not far from a collection of strip malls and cul-de-sacs.

NJDOT

NJDOT’s headquarters are located between residential and industrial areas with lots of surface parking nearby.

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.

New York

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

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.

New Jersey

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.

Regional offices

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)

 

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17 comments to How Walkable is your State DOT Headquarters?

  • Rob

    We should all apply this analysis to the engineering firms our municipalities hire. I did for mine, and the two engineering firms came up with a whopping 9 and 21.

    Then I looked at a big developer who has come to town, and looked at how walkable his offices are. This had a decent WalkScore, but then when I zeroed-in on the location, I noticed that it was in an office park that was no reachable by pedestrians. To get to the supposed restaurants from the office, there were NO SIDEWALKS to reach the nearby road, NO SIDEWALK to cross the adjacent multi-lane state highway, AND NO PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL OR CROSSWALK to cross the highway. From a walkability perspective, almost a complete ZERO.

    WalkScore allows you to click “Disagree” with its score, and send an email as to why. The staff there are pretty responsive.

  • Clark Morris

    How accessible by Public Transportation are the various DOT headquarters. My probably out of date recollection of the NJDOT HQ is that it is at the end of one bus line and that is it.

  • Rob Durchola

    For the head office of a statewide agency, walkability is less important than accessibility for two reasons:

    1. When the public at-large needs access, they come from all over the state.
    2. Employees of that agency may frequently be transferred between regional offices and the head office or need to split their time between offices.

    On this account, NJ DOT is very accessible.
    1. For employees who wish to live nearby, it does abut a residential area.
    2. For employees or the public who do not/cannot live nearby, it is served by two bus routes, both of which connect to other routes in downtown Trenton and serve other parts of Mercer County, as well.

    a. The 607 stops on Parkway Avenue in front of the original building.
    b. The 609 stops in the parking lot within steps of the main entrance to the annex. The 609 also serves the Trenton Transportation Complex for rail and light rail connections and operates every 15-20 minutes during peak periods for easy employee access.

    Note: NJDOT is actually located on Parkway Avenue in Ewing Twp. It has a Trenton mailing address.

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  • M

    NYSDOT Region 1 is no longer in Schenectady. This Region office is now at the Albany main office on Wolf Road. While there is probably more to walk to around the Albany office, Wolf Road remains dangerous for pedestrians. The short pedestrian signal crossing times and distance between crossing points are only a few of the issues pedestrians face.

  • Tom Murphy

    Title should be: How Walkable is your State DOT HQ, and who cares.

    Its all about jobs for upstate where they need them, nothing more. Let’s move the Queens office to the Southern Tier, then they might not desperately want fracking’s jobs. Not a problem for me.

  • Rob

    Thanks for pointing this out. This is a HUGE problem, because how you live affects how you see the world.

    Our transportation officials cannot imagine life without a car, or not being able to drive everywhere. It skews their imaginations of what is possible.

    When they encounter a person trying to create an urban place, they can’t understand or relate.

  • Ann

    This shows up the failings of the Walk Score methodology. There is now way that ConnDOT HQ is “somewhat walkable.” The Berlin Turnpike is about the least pedestrian-friendly non-limited access road in the state! Sure, there are “amenities” in walking distance, but you’d have to be suicidal to want to walk there.

    A better measure would be to set up a video camera outside of each DOT and see how many people actually *do* walk out of the building there to a location other than to their cars.

  • Robbie

    I can’t defend everything that Wisconsin DOT does, but their main offices are very walkable – a score of 80. There are also multiple buses that either drop off right in front of the office or within a few blocks. I have also biked to the office many times. There are apartments and condos across the street, a nice mall with all the things you’d need, including groceries within a couple of blocks. They also have really nice bike racks that are in the shape of bikes.

  • jimble

    NYSDOT headquarters is actually in the town of Colonie, despite the Albany mailing address. Colonie is pretty much the embodiment of all things suburban.

  • While admittedly lacking on walkable lunchtime destinations or happy hour destinations, it’s worth bearing in mind that Maryland DOT’s headquarters is right at a MARC/Amtrak station. Most of the people I know there pack a lunch, commute by MARC, and spend their evenings back home — where their home MARC stations do have more walkable evening destinations.

  • Omri

    Not only is MassDOT in an eminently walkable location, it’s also in the most appropriate part of the city for parking. There is lots of parking to be had for a price. But for free/metered parking, there’s almost nothing in the area.

  • For Maryland the premise of the article is flawed. The State Highway Administration is in walkable areas of downtown Baltimore–the MDOT headquarters by the BWI-MARC station (and the BWI airport and trail) oversees the ports, aviation, railroads, toll roads, and bikeways.

    Appropriate that it is close to an airport, rail line, major highway, and major trail.

  • VW

    I’d like to know how the cost of office space played into these location decisions.

  • […] How Walkable is Your State DOT Headquarters?  How walkable are the locations of state department of transportation headquarters, and what does this tell us about their transportation priorities? […]

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