Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Transportation Committee Chair David Gantt and Corporations Authorities and Commissions Committee Chair James Brennan today announced that the 2015-16 SFY Budget provides a $25 million increase in state aid to upstate transit systems, $50 million for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) and $250 million in additional funds for the Department of Transportation (DOT) road and bridge capital projects.
"I am very pleased that my colleagues and I were successful in boosting funding to increase the state's investment in our transportation infrastructure, including the additional state aid for the upstate transit authorities," said Heastie. "Not only are these transit systems critical to the mobility of New Yorkers but they are also important to the vitality of local communities and their economies. Addressing the financial difficulties of these transit lines was a priority for our house and this budget reflects our long-time support and commitment to mass transit."
"I applaud Speaker Heastie for making the case for more upstate mass transit aid, since many of these transit operators have not had sufficient state funding increases in a number of years," said Gantt. "Mass transit plays a significant role in the daily lives of our constituents. The additional funding we fought to include in this budget will help the upstate transit authorities provide the public with the transportation services they depend on."
"These extra funds are vital to the mass transit systems in upstate New York. I appreciate Speaker Heastie pushing hard to assure that these needs are met," said Brennan. "In addition, communities in Brooklyn and Queens will see a reduction in air pollution from the $4 million provided in this budget to replace the diesel engines along the LIRR freight line that move through those boroughs."
Heastie, Gantt and Brenan noted that the Assembly pushed for a greater state commitment in transit aid to help the many financially struggling upstate transit systems that are in need of additional state support. As a result, the budget provides a total of $188.6 million for upstate transit operating aid, an increase of $10 million above both last year's amount and the Executive Budget. It also provides additional and new capital funding of $15 million to help upstate transit operators invest in equipment and facilities that enhance the transit services they provide to the public.
The upstate transit systems that will benefit from the Assembly's advocacy for additional state aid include the Capital District Transportation Authority, Central New York Regional Transportation Authority, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, and Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority.
CHIPs Road, Highway Program Receives Additional Funds
To help local governments repair and restore their roads and highways following the damage caused by this winter's extreme cold weather, the Assembly secured a $50 million increase in CHIPs funding for a total appropriation of $488 million.
Transportation Capital Project Funding
Funding for the Department of Transportation's capital program for the next two years will be increased by $250 million above the Executive's budget, providing $100 million in 2015-16 and $150 million in 2016-17 for capital projects. The additional funds will help improve the state's transportation infrastructure to ensure roads, bridges and highways are reliable, safe and efficient. For this fiscal year's transportation capital projects, $2.5 million is included in the budget to reopen a rest area on I-88 at Wells Bridge, $1 million to renovate the rest area at Exit 18 on I-87 in Glens Falls and $4 million to upgrade a LIRR diesel train engine to meet higher emissions standards.
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Rebate Program
Also part of the budget is $10.3 million in state transportation funds to continue the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (VNB) Rebate Program for another 12 months, providing Staten Island residents with a toll rebate after several crossings of the VNB.
Settlement Funding Disclosure Required
The Legislature establishes in this budget reporting requirements involving settlement funds that are appropriated to the Thruway Authority. This provision will ensure that the $1.3 billion in settlement funds are spent responsibly by the authority to help pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.
State Support for NYC Transportations Studies
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) will each receive $1 million in budget funds to study two transportation projects. The MTA will examine accessibility and capacity at the Kingsbridge Road / Jerome Avenue Subway Station in the Bronx, and the New York City Department of Transportation will conduct a preliminary design study for the construction of on/off ramps from the southbound side of the Hutchinson River Parkway, in the vicinity of the Hutchinson Metro Center Office Park.