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Highway Expansion

State DOT’s Misplaced Priorities: Widening Highways While Bridges Crumble

Earlier this week we asked why the state Department of Transportation still thinks it's a good idea to widen highways in the middle of dense urban neighborhoods. The agency met with stiff resistance Monday when it presented plans for bigger ramps and more lanes where the Major Deegan Expressway passes through a redeveloping neighborhood in the southwest Bronx.

In a post on Mobilizing the Region, Kyle Wiswall of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign raises another pertinent question. Why spend a quarter billion dollars on bigger ramps for the Major Deegan when more than a hundred bridges across the state are in perilously decrepit condition?

There are also urgent needs statewide to fix crumbling infrastructurethat represent a better use of funds. Upstate, the Lake ChamplainBridge was allowed to deteriorate to such a degree that it was closedlast month and must be demolished and a new bridge constructed in its place. Across the state, 110 bridges have lower safety ratings than the Champlain Bridge had before it was closed, according to the Albany Times Union.

The Champlain Bridge closure is wreaking havoc up in Essex County, all because the state DOT hasn't fixed the structures it's supposed to maintain. "Fix-it-first" is not one of the sexier planks in the national transportation reform platform, but without it, this is what you get at the local level. City-killing road expansion projects and crumbling bridges.

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