Painting the Future of Transportation

September 19, 2008 Updated: September 19, 2008

NEW YORK—This city is going places. With the city expecting to accommodate two million more people by 2030, transportation leaders are calling for public input in developing a vision for the next 25 years in transportation infrastructure.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) held community workshops in 10 counties to pool ideas and suggestions in allocating funds to various areas of regional and local transportation, including projects linking transportation systems, accommodating increased freight traffic, reducing car use, and conducting land use studies.

The energy generated at these workshops is remarkable, said Lisa Daglian of the NYMTC, who hasn’t missed a single workshop yet. “The intensity and passion that people bring coming in is incredible,” she said.

The workshops draw a wide cross-section of people, according to Daglian. “Some people come to all the workshops, there are some who haven’t even heard of us until they saw an article or events calendar in the paper, and some have been dragged in by their neighbors,” Daglian said. Newcomers open up almost immediately.

“We all live and work here,” she said. “These are all issues that pertain to all of us. For instance, how to increase pedestrian access? How to get people out of cars and into public transit?”

All the comments generated at these workshops are recorded and sent to appropriate agencies for consideration. Some ideas coming to fruition were born of such workshops—for example, bus rapid transit lanes and a traffic calming study in Downtown Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, transportation agencies are working to prioritize proposed projects in need of existing or additional funding. There are two lists of projects being submitted to the Program, Finance, and Administration Committee: the first, Resolution 260, deals with only reprogrammed funds and needs no new funding; and the second, Resolution 261, contains items requesting funds.

Resolution 261 is the big list. Some 78 items long, it contains projects under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York City Department of Transportation, among others. The projects run the gamut from new bike lanes to station renovations, each asking for up to 2.5 million dollars from the Federal government.

The NYMTC brings together transportation agencies that together oversee 65 percent of the State, including New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley.

By the end of the year, NYMTC is expected to share their plans for 2010 to 2035 with a Federal legislative delegation.

What’s on the Plate

The MTA is working on several projects—a new subway line on 2nd Ave. in Manhattan, due to be completed in 2015; connecting two Long Island Rail Road lines from Queens to Grand Central Station; and extending the 7 line to the west side of Manhattan.

Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) will connect midtown Manhattan and New Jersey via a new tunnel serving two rail lines under the Hudson River, which would require expanding Penn Station. The new tunnel will be used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

Synching existing transportation lines is a theme in NYMTC’s plans. Plans are in the works for a new train that can operate on both manual LIRR and automated AirTrain lines, thus increasing options for fliers.

Since the rest of the world is moving toward using larger cargo ships, New York must think about deepening its harbors or raising the height of its bridges, according to Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during a NYMTC presentation on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Providing alternatives for regional air travel is another topic of discussion. “People flying between Newark and Philadelphia are chewing up valuable air slots,” Ward said.

Updates and webcasts of workshops will be available in the archives at www.nymtc.org.