What do Schumer’s “Greenway Bucks” mean for NYC? – Streetsblog New York City

Don’t take the bikes out yet.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Thursday that it has awarded the city $7.25 million for ‘greenway expansion’, but the fine print reveals the money will be spent ‘planning’ for the expansion of the greenway network – which, as every cyclist in the city knows, is not a network at all, but a collection of several sections overseen by the Parks Department, which does not maintain not trails consistently.

But here’s the good news: You have to start somewhere — and $7.25 million pays for a plot planning, said longtime attorney Jon Orcutt, a former Bloomberg administration official who now runs communications outlet Bike New York.

There are not enough greenways and they are not well maintained.
There are not enough greenways and they are not well maintained.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “Mayor Adams announced $50 million in greenway projects earlier this year, part of $200 million in total, and it all started with a $1 million planning grant. This planning grant is therefore fundamental.

Initial funds from the mayor’s “Destination Greenways” announcement will only pay for a few Parks-led projects in Brooklyn and Queens:

  • new segments of greenways in Leif Ericson Park
  • rebuild the existing greenway in part of the Shore Road Park
  • new segments at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Kissena Corridor Park and Kissena Park

Orcutt estimates it would take over a billion dollars to build all the missing links in the city’s (still not) greenway network, but all construction starts with planning the exact right-of-ways and designing the segments themselves. .

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s been on paper for a long time, so the idea is to plan a bunch of new grips,” Orcutt said. “We didn’t see the idea of ​​’Destination Greenways’ come to fruition until there was planning funding.”

It was undoubtedly helpful that the city grant received a boost from Senator Chuck Schumer, the Majority Leader who touted the grant hours before it was official:

But which gaps will be filled first? No one is talking – although advocates believe there will be momentum for stretches in southeastern Queens, given that Mayor Adams and Council President Adrienne Adams are from there (and frequently remind listeners ).

The federal planning money comes as the City Council is still in the process of passing a “greenways master plan” bill that requires the city to create (and then maintain) the entire network of greenways in the original 1993 city plan (hat tip, Mayor Dinkins). The bill’s sponsor told Streetsblog in June that the city had done a horrible job of completing the full network.

“Many of New York’s 100 miles of greenways only exist on paper,” said council member (and future congresswoman) Carlina Rivera. “New York’s greenway system is currently a collection of fragments. We want to change that.”

This bill provides the mandate that compels the city to do something, Orcutt said. And the federal grant gets it started.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “We get a lot more attention.”

Map: DOT
Click to enlarge. Map: DOT

To get an idea of ​​how long it takes to build greenways in this city, take a look at the gap map (right). A segment connecting Red Hook and Sunset Park along Third and Second Avenues in Brooklyn dates back to 2005 and gained funding under President George W. Bush through Rep. Nydia Velazquez that year. It’s still not done. And the body count is growing, but the only update on the New York City Department of Transportation’s “current projects” page is a PDF from 2014 – over eight years ago.

And that thick green line on the map along Ocean Parkway? It’s a greenway on paper; on wheels, it’s a mess of roots and potholes.

The planning money came as part of the US DOT’s newly expanded transportation grant program called Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grants – which will allocate about $2.2 billion to 166 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Believe it or not, the pot of money which is about the same as interest on the national debt increases every six minutes is one of the biggest pots of discretionary funds available to Secretary Pete Buttigieg for influence the future of transportation for American communities, as Streetsblog USA reported on Thursday.

“These projects will improve our supply chains to reduce the cost of goods, connect currently divided communities, reduce pollution and carbon emissions from our transportation systems, create jobs and foster economic opportunity, and improve safety. on our roads and rails,” Buttigieg said. “Learning about these projects and providing the funding to help make them a reality is one of the best parts of serving in this role.”

As with the last round of RAISE grants, sustainable transportation advocates praised the list for living up to the name of the program and prioritizing sustainability and fairness — and not just for drivers.

“The FY22 RAISE grants underscore the urgency that all communities – rural, suburban and urban – feel to provide safe and connected active transportation infrastructure that gets people where they need to go, whether or not they have a car” , said Kevin Mills, vice president. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy policy chair. “The US DOT has demonstrated its understanding that trails, walking, and bicycling are essential to transformative and equitable community design that improves our quality of life.”

And when it came to projects that would have adding more asphalt for drivers, the DOT has also repeatedly pointed out the benefits for other groups. Once again, active transportation infrastructure was included in the majority of these competitive grant projects—officials estimated about 70%—and the DOT even claimed that several lane-widening projects would benefit the public. public transport. The redesign of 22nd Street in Tucson, for example, would remove weight restrictions on a crucial bridge and allow buses to cross it, shortening some riders’ trips by up to 30 minutes.

“Historically, RAISE has seen a significant number of projects that have been [focused on] roads,” said Christopher Coes, assistant secretary for transportation policy. “But as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law and through the work of our Federal Highway Administration, we have encouraged project developers to think more holistically. This round we saw an allowance [where] approximately 52% of our financing [is] go on the roads, but a very significant number of these projects included elements of complete streets.

Here are some of the other notable projects:

  • $25 million planning grant to help complete key segment on California’s high-speed rail line
  • A new shared-use path on an old elevated train line in Chicago. ($20M)
  • Infrastructure to stop driver, cyclist and pedestrian crashes along the Brightline rail line in Florida ($25 million)
  • Funding for major bicycle/pedestrian bridges over highways, rivers, and other obstacles that restrict mobility in undeserved communities, including Phoenix ($25 million), Arlington, Virginia ($20 million), Huntsville , To the. ($20 million), Alamosa, Colo ($5 million), and Sheboygan, Wisc. ($5M)
  • Critical trail and greenway extensions, new split paths or planning in Northeast Texas ($25 million), Washington, DC ($10 million), Albuquerque ($11 million) and Winston-Salem ( $6 million)
  • Multi-modal trail networks in small towns like Conway, Arkansas ($25M), Plainville and New Britain, Connecticut ($16M) and Tulsa ($16M)
  • Money for Complete Streets in Philadelphia ($25M), Detroit ($25M), Las Vegas ($24M), San Francisco ($23M), Houston ($21M), Cincinnati ($20M), Natchitoches , Louisiana ($17M), Wheeling, WV ($16M), Buffalo ($25M), Pittsburgh ($11M), Boise ($5M) and many After
  • Major transit facility upgrades or new hubs in Atlanta ($25 million), Lincoln ($23 million), Clearwater, Fla. ($20 million), Harvey ($20 million), suburban Chicago ( $20 million), Baton Rouge ($20 million) and Prince George County, Maryland ($20 million)

— with Kea Wilson

Comments are closed.