As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Mayor de Blasio is planning a press conference to celebrate the one millionth pothole filled under his administration. This should be good news for those New Yorkers who own a car and traverse the City’s roads — a sister landscape to the dark side of the Moon’s cratered face.
A January 2016 report issued by the national transportation group, TRIP, found that the poor state of New York City’s roads, coupled with congestion, costs drivers an additional $2,798 a year. John Corlett, Legislative Committee chairman at AAA New York State notes:
“In 2015 alone, AAA serviced more than 200,000 flat tire calls throughout New York – many of which were due to potholes and other hazardous road conditions. This is a symptom of the lack of adequate investment in roads.”
With the one millionth pothole filled, New Yorkers’ driving woes should be fixed, right?
Not so much it turns out.
In December 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the first transportation infrastructure legislation to be passed since George W. Bush was in office. But as many observers note, with no long-term, sustainable revenue source, it falls far short of covering the real costs needed to fix our crumbling infrastructure — leaving once again states and local municipalities scrambling to find new resources.
During this legislative session, New Yorkers will more than likely watch a tug-of-war between Upstate and Downstate legislators, all fighting to bring infrastructure monies to their regions. Rightfully so. Here’s TRIP’s breakdown of pavement conditions for the State’s major urban areas:
While NYC has the majority of urban roads falling under the “Poor” category, Syracuse and Poughkeepsie-Newburgh aren’t far behind. And “Mediocre” roads plague most all regions. Rebuild New York Now is a coalition working to ensure infrastructure parity — comparing the State’s commitment of $26.1 billion for the MTA’s capital program to the $20.1 billion committed to the State DOT. Just how the State plans to pay for the multi-billion dollar gaps remains to be seen.
But there is a proposal that would not only fulfill the $7.3 billion gap in the MTA’s program but also generate an additional $375 billion annually for New York City roads and bridges: the Move NY Fair Plan. For the first time, there would be a dedicated, sustainable revenue stream to seal roads (which prevents potholes), fill potholes, and coat and lubricate bridge components so spans last longer. On top of that, Move NY creates a Transit Gap Investment Fund, which dedicates $4.5 billion in new revenues to transit expansion and accessibility, allowing many City drivers the option to avoid our treacherous roads altogether.
We can’t continue to ignore the obvious: transportation infrastructure is vital to our safety, sanity, and economic stability and potential. Adopting Move NY provides relief to Downstaters, but it also helps Upstaters by freeing up revenues to make sure their roads and bridges move from “Poor” to “Good.”