A bill requiring the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a 20-year State Transportation Plan with updates every five years in line with current MTA Capital Plans passed the state Legislature on Tuesday with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Both the public and the Legislature have a vested interest in decisions regarding improvements to our state’s transportation infrastructure,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “This legislation will ensure that the state’s tax dollars are being used thoughtfully and responsibly by bringing transparency and accountability to the process.”
The legislation (A4880/S1673) — introduced to the Assembly in February — makes certain that the plan is maintained on a public website to ensure transparency, according to state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who authored the legislation.
“New York taxpayers deserve an accountable capital planning process of their state transportation and infrastructure dollars,” said Rozic. “Without details, our ability to participate in decisions about spending on state roads, bridges as well as bus and rail infrastructure is significantly curtailed. This legislation would ensure the transparency that the public deserves.”
Unlike the MTA, the State DOT is not statutorily required to submit a capital plan. Although a Memorandum of Understanding was approved in 2009, there is not currently a publicly reviewable five-year or 20-year capital plan for DOT. Historically, the DOT and MTA five-year capital plans have been negotiated and approved simultaneously; recently, that process has differed.
State Senator James Skoufis introduced the bill with Rozic to hold the DOT accountable to a 20-year plan and ensure that the public has transparent access to the plan’s progression.
“This bill is essential has been for far too long. New Yorkers deserve reliable transportation infrastructure and I’m confident that this bill will help ensure taxpayers are getting their fair share of services,” said Skoufis.
Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator of NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign said, “This process allows for public input, and ultimately results in a plan that the public can use to hold the MTA accountable. There is no reason why New York State’s Department of Transportation, which oversees transportation projects all over New York state, shouldn’t do the same.”
Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said the passage of the bill sends a clear message that the state is serious about a real, long-term plan to improve transportation infrastructure.
“We are glad to see the Legislature move our state’s transportation planning in a more transparent direction. It’s long past time that the state’s transportation plan included a capital plan that shows the allocation of public funds and a transparency component so that New Yorkers can actively participate in the planning process,” said Sifuentes.