New York lawmakers want more transportation transparency


Lawmakers advanced a bill designed to make the New York State Department of Transportation more accountable for its capital planning.

The state Assembly approved legislation Tuesday that would require the state DOT to create a 20 year transportation plan with updates every five years, in line with what is required by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, D-Fresh Meadows, noted that historically the DOT and MTA five-year capital plans were negotiated and approved simultaneously, but in recent years the process has differed at the two New York transportation agencies.

“Without details, our ability to participate in decisions about spending on state roads, bridges as well as bus and rail infrastructure is significantly curtailed,” says Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, D-Fresh Meadows.

Office of Assemblywoman Nily Rozic

“New York taxpayers deserve an accountable capital planning process of their state transportation and infrastructure dollars,” Rozic said in a statement. “Without details, our ability to participate in decisions about spending on state roads, bridges as well as bus and rail infrastructure is significantly curtailed.”

Rozic noted that while a memorandum of understanding was approved in 2009, there is not currently a publicly reviewable five-year or 20-year capital plan for the DOT. Her bill would also ensure that the DOT plan is maintained on a public website.

Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, noted that multi-year capital plans are important because of the public accountability they provide on how public dollars are being spent. The MTA is statutorily required to produce a five-year capital program that details a list of infrastructure and capital projects in the pipeline.

“This process allows for public input, and ultimately results in a plan that the public can use to hold the MTA accountable,” said Cohen in a statement. “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.”

The DOT transparency bill next must pass the state Senate before it gets sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for consideration. State lawmakers are scheduled to be in session until the end of June.

“It’s long past time that the state’s transportation plan includes 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,” Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in a statement. “Thank you to Assembly Member Rozic and the Legislature for passing this amendment, which sends a clear message that the state is serious about a real, long term plan to improve our transportation infrastructure.”

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