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When State DOTs Run Amok: $266M For Widening, Crumbs For Waterfront

11:45 AM EST on November 20, 2009

Streetsblog New York reported last week on the state DOT's expensive plan to widen part of the Major Deegan Expressway in the southwest Bronx, even as the agency fails to maintain upstate bridges. 

deegan_sheridan.jpgMore lanes, or more housing and parks? (Image of
proposed Deegan Expressway widening: NYSDOT. Image of the community's
plan for a de-commissioned Sheridan Expressway: SBRWA)

The dubious Deegan project sucks up $266 million in the state DOT's new
five-year capital plan, while more promising initiatives -- like the potential removal of the Sheridan Expressway-- languish without much money at all.

The DOT is considering tearing down the little-used Sheridan, a decision that would clear trucks off local streets and make room for housing, shops, and parks by the Bronx River.

But the capital plan sets aside just $2 million for the project. As advocates said in testimony today, that's only enough cash to muddle through the studies already underway.

To repeat: New York state's capital plan includes $266 million to widen a highway in an asthma-choked area of the Bronx, and $2 million for a project that could dramatically improve neighborhoods pummeled by truck traffic. Addressing a State Senate committee yesterday, advocates made the case for a different approach.

"We call on the NYS DOT to reinstate funding for the Sheridan project by reducing the size and scope of the Major Deegan Expressway project," the South Bronx River Watershed Alliance said in a statement. "With scarce resources, the agency must do a better job of prioritizing transportation investments that promote the safety, health and well-being of New York City residents."

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign submitted detailed commentary on the full capital plan, which you can read here. Here Tri-State explains why the New York DOT, which doesn't expand highways to the same degree as other state DOTs, still has a weakness for widening certain types of roads.

NYS DOT often plans large or over built rehabilitation projects underthe guise of "bringing the roadway up to modern design standards."While certain modern design changes can help improve safety, spendingmillions of dollars, in some cases hundreds of millions, to simplywiden interchanges, intersections, or build additional lanes does notmake sense. Such projects often do little to solve congestion in thelong-run, and come with very high price tags at a time when we have nomoney to waste.

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