- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state has won $112.2 million in Federal Highway Administration funds for 81 projects that either increase pedestrian and bicycle access or improve air quality, according to The Lansing Star.
- The FHWA grant pays for 80% of qualified projects and, combined with other state and private funding, is expected to result in at least $233 million worth of initiatives that will also include accessible sidewalks, crosswalk upgrades and roadway safety improvements.
- The New York State Department of Transportation won the funding through a competitive process that required applicants to submit plans for providing more non-vehicular transportation choices and/or reducing vehicle emissions or traffic congestion.
Governments at all levels are aiming to boost alternative transportation options and offer developer incentives for projects that encourage biking, car-sharing and other non-individual car options. For example, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a points-based measure in February that will require developers who want to include free parking with their projects to also provide features that will promote alternative transportation methods.
The money that New York receives will also go toward projects like rails-to-trails and expanded park-and-ride services, as well an increase in some public transit operations hours, mobile ticketing systems and electric buses. Railroad tracks converted to recreational trails are a popular adaptive reuse project. In fact, this type of recreational area is so valued by users in Bethesda, MD, that it has become a main obstacle to the construction of a $5.6 billion light-rail project that would connect the community to surrounding suburbs and Washington, DC.
Bethesda created a recreational trail and park around abandoned freight rail tracks, but the Purple Line construction would necessitate removing those, as well as many trees, and replacing them with an asphalt path next to the new train tracks. The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail maintains that the environmental review submitted by Purple Line officials when the project received its Federal Transit Administration approval did not accurately reflect future ridership, and a federal judge agreed. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon put the project on hold until the FTA can take another look at the Purple Line's numbers.
Most recently, the Purple Line has missed a deforestation deadline, which could delay the project even further. Despite this and other setbacks, the Maryland Transit Administration maintains that the system could still be completed on time.