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 infrastructure
that represent a better use of funds. Upstate, the Lake Champlain
Bridge was allowed to deteriorate to such a degree that it was closed
last 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.

  • It’s not just the Deegan where the State DOT is widening instead of just fixing:

    The Tappan Zee Bridge/Thruway
    The Kosziuscko Bridge
    – The Brooklyn Bridge
    – The BQE in Carroll Gardens

    New Yorkers should be asking whether Governor Paterson’s choice to head the DOT, Frank McArdle, will have the inclination to turn that department around the way that Sadik-Khan has in the city. Will he have a mandate with backup from his boss, like Sadik-Khan? And if not, why not?

  • Sorry, here’s the link to my post on the Kosciuszko.

  • Charles

    They respond to the “problems” they see day to day. Politicos don’t notice bridges are deficient until they’ve been closed or collapse, which still happens pretty infrequently despite the decrepit state of the infrastructure. But every legislator who drives (or is driven) on the Tap, or the BQE, or the Deegan, or wherever, sees the congestion and fumes about it every time. That’s what gets their attention. Add that to the entitled-to-drive mentality that people in that milieu have and it’s not at all surprising that DOT’s priorities are what they are.

  • Very disconcerting. It seems in the complete opposite direction of where we should be trying to get to. More effort should be going towards reducing car traffic into the city (like congestion pricing) than making it easier for people to commute by automobile. Unfortunately, it seems that New York City has found better success by combating this problem for the inside out, rather than the outside in, by making it easier to move around without a car once you are here. Albany needs to get its priorities straight.

  • Douglas Willinger

    Widening highways allows greater amounts of economic activity within a given developed area; the dogma against such is outmodeled.

  • Kaja

    Pro troll Doug!

  • Douglas


    You admit that you have no argument.

    Sorry, the world does not work like the movie Day After Tommorrow where no one in Manhattan starves becasuse they detest trcks and highways?

    Tell your masters you are confused!

  • Kaja

    now i truly know what it is to be owned


Downtown Brooklyn Already Bracing for BQE Reconstruction

Sometime around 2019, the state DOT will begin reconstructing the segment of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway that runs through downtown Brooklyn. There are years and years of review before a shovel goes in the ground, but when construction starts, local streets already jammed with trucks and car commuters heading for free East River bridges will […]

A Reason to Give Thanks: State DOT Won’t Widen the Deegan

This just in: The State DOT will not widen exit ramps from the Major Deegan Expressway, the Mott Haven Herald reports. NYSDOT Region 11 spokesperson Adam Levine confirmed to Streetsblog that the agency will also refrain from adding "auxiliary lanes" as part of its plan to fix a segment of the Deegan along the Harlem […]

Eyes on the Street: State DOT Squeezes Van Cortlandt Park Greenway

The walls are closing in on people who walk or bike on the Van Cortlandt Park greenway in the Bronx. A state Department of Transportation highway construction project has narrowed the shared bicycle and pedestrian path to just four feet, while leaving adjacent car lanes and a golf cart path almost entirely untouched. The cause of the greenway pinch […]