Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Comments on the draft NY State Transportation Plan for 2030
Friday, March 24, 2006
Inadequate treatment of transportation-land use connection / smart growth
Transportation Campaign cannot endorse a state transportation plan that does
not feature the problem and potential answers regarding the land
use/transportation connection much more prominently. We will recommend that
the next state administration discard this plan and begin anew unless this
is rectified in the final draft.
The fact that
the draft document contains more extensive discussion of Canadian border
crossing issues than of grappling with traffic-generating land uses and
innovative ways to foster different types of development in the future is an
indication that a more sweeping change of outlook is needed at the State
Dept. of Transportation. The Department’s location of the issue exclusively
under the “quality of life” section of the plan, and its omission from
“demand management” and “corridor planning” sections, similarly suggests a
fundamental misapprehension of the land use problem’s importance.
“Corridor-based transportation management,” it is striking that there is
no discussion of affecting land use policy to promote transportation
efficiency in the state’s key corridors. Is it immaterial to the Dept.
of Transportation whether the Albany-NYC corridor, for instance,
features vibrant, compact towns and cities or becomes clogged with low
of integrating efforts of “transportation operators” should contain a
discussion of agency coordination with municipalities, since that is
obviously the way that transportation agencies can influence future land
management section contains no acknowledgement that sprawl development
is a leading generator of additional traffic, nor that the Department’s
past projects have facilitated sprawl, for instance, by expanding roads
in counties like Monroe that are losing population, nor that planning
efforts to locate future development in transportation efficient
locations can reduce travel demand. This is a major failing of the plan
and in the Dept. of Transportation’s attempt to move into 21st
Century transportation policy making.
The plan states that “Localities will be
encouraged to adopt land use plans that adequately guide future growth”
and “All transportation operators will be encouraged to support
community planning efforts that promote higher population densities,
development that is more transit friendly, and the preservation of farm
land.” Encouraged by who? Starting when? How? In what corridors? To
be believed on this point, the plan needs to articulate far more clearly
how transportation policy makers are going to embark on this new
course. What are the policy mechanisms? Use of the passive voice here
without any specificity suggests this language is lip service.
How does this language affect the critical
Tappan Zee corridor, for instance, where the Dept. and associated agencies
show all the signs that they will hit municipalities with a gigantic
corridor engineering scheme developed in back rooms over the course of 3-4
years, with no land use planning? Transportation agencies that are actually
grappling with making their work relate to land use would begin with
discussions all along the corridor about what communities want to look like
by 2025 or 2030.
We strongly urge that the state plan discuss
how the New Jersey or New Hampshire DOT’s are reinventing themselves in ways
that will make smart growth happen more frequently.
The NYMTC pilot examples cited regarding land
use date to the mid-1990s and no next generation has taken their place, nor
has NYSDOT played a strong role in any of them. The plan does not look ahead
to key corridors where the approach will be used and further developed in
the future. The NYSDOT grant program mentioned is far too small to affect
land use to any significant degree. Neither does “context sensitive
solutions” affect land use in a pro-active way.
Tying DOT efforts on land use to the state’s
Quality Communities program seems like a kiss of death. Quality
Communities is anemic, largely invisible and is not even clearly about
compact, transportation-efficient development. Hopefully it will be
supplanted by an ambitious smart growth program during the next
administration. It is unsurprising that the Quality Communities passage
does not cite any success stories.
industrial access program should also have smart location criteria and
not encourage sprawl.
appreciate and endorse the stated “maintenance first” philosophy. We
encourage the State DOT to more prominently publicize annual statewide
pavement and bridge conditions to underscore the need for resources and
continual investment in this area.
ITS, where is there data from existing highway ITS deployment other than
E-Z Pass that suggests it has any effect whatsoever? Since the early
1990s, the State has spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in
this area without ever demonstrating its efficacy.
discussion on demand management contains no discussion of rail freight
or short-sea shipping’s potential roles, despite the fact that any
freight movement we shift to rail or water helps the situation on our
highways. What are the chief rail or waterway improvements we can make
in NY State for which there is a case for public investment?
bridges and tunnels do you foresee adding truck lanes to? Why be
unspecific about this? What are the implications of the recent failure
of the Port of New Jersey-Port of Albany container barge service for the
Port Inland Distribution Network? Which PIDN projects does the state
support? Will they be part of a future state capital program?
the point of mentioning projects “under study” like the LIRR Main Line
third track (page 53) without endorsing the clear need for them? A
passive litany of issues under discussion does not function as a plan.
the public transit section contain no discussion of bus rapid transit’s
potential to add low-cost mass transit capacity? A great many
jurisdictions around the world outside of New York are successfully
implementing BRT projects. Meanwhile, NYC Transit holds the distinction
of running the slowest urban bus system in the U.S., according to the
Federal Transit Administration.
that the state approach traffic law enforcement with the “broken window”
theory the NYPD has applied to other types of crime – more aggressively
enforcing laws against petty violations to deter or catch drivers likely
to cause serious harm in the future. The fact is that casual traffic
law breaking in NY State has developed into an epidemic of dangerous
behavior such as speeding, rolling through stop signs and red light
should acknowledge that uncivility and lawlessness on roads is widespread
and that tolerance of casual law-breaking is at least partially at fault.
Federal data suggest that lawbreaking occurs frequently in fatal accidents.
In Suffolk County, for instance, the deadliest absolute (about 170 deaths
per year) and per-capita (11.7 road deaths per 100,000 population) county in
the state, federal records show that law-breaking contributed to over 40% of
fatal crashes. That compares to 21% that involved drunk driving.
surprised that a contemporary set of traffic safety recommendations
contains no mention of traffic calming, a method proven around the globe
for creating safer and higher quality neighborhoods and commercial
districts. Where are the department’s plans to promote traffic calming
and extend expertise in the area to municipal governments, for instance
by extending the NYSDOT Long Island traffic calming grant program to the
Hudson Valley and other NYSDOT regions? This seems to add evidence to
the argument that the Dept. still has distance to travel in becoming a
multi-modal, 21st Century transportation agency.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
350 West 31st Street #802
New York, NY 10001