StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on the Influx of Federal Infrastructure Funding

We testified today at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure oversight hearing on assessing the state of the city's infrastructure and laying the foundation for federal infrastructure funding, a broad and somewhat complicated topic (there are reportedly 34 separate funding streams for infrastructure projects). We focused on certain aspects of the city's transportation system; our full testimony follows below.

Thanks to an unprecedented flow of federal infrastructure funding, New York City has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade and expand its transportation system.

While there are many pots of federal money, quite a few of which are tied to competitive grants, StreetsPAC believes the city should be guided by a few overarching principles.

First, similarly to the Priority Investment Areas outlined in the New York City Streets Plan, funding should be prioritized in communities that have historically been underserved. Economically disadvantaged and predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods should receive priority when it comes to these transportation initiatives.

Secondly, investments in transportation infrastructure should emphasize safety and accessibility, especially the safety of vulnerable street users. The reversal in the progress of the city’s Vision Zero initiative has reached a critical juncture. We know that investments in complete streets, protected bike lanes, curb extensions, raised crosswalks and similar design treatments improve safety for everyone, and the influx of federal funds can both expand and speed up the implementation of these types of infrastructure. Similarly, we should take this opportunity to accelerate the pace of investment in making our transit system 100% accessible.

Thirdly, we believe the city should prioritize quick-build projects wherever federal funding will support that. Dedicated bus lanes, busways, protected bike lanes, and a host of traffic-calming installations can be implemented quickly, and often at relatively low cost. Bus and bike improvements can also help to plug gaps in transit deserts.

Relatedly, we believe the availability of federal funds for alternative transportation modes presents a golden opportunity to subsidize accelerated expansion of the city’s bike-share program. Bike share remains the only aspect of our transportation system that receives no subsidy, and we should seize this chance to expand bike share across the five boroughs and to New Yorkers of all means.

Finally, we want to amplify the call by Council Member Rivera and others to make a substantial investment in the city’s Greenway network. Greenways have the potential to extend open space into all corners of the city, and to serve as the backbone of a safe, separated, and resilient citywide bike network. Federal funds can jumpstart the city’s decades-old plan to build a robust, interconnected Greenway network. Let’s not let this opportunity go to waste.

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published this page in News 2022-04-19 16:39:30 -0400
StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.