De Blasio’s Budget Has No Funding Increase for Street Safety Projects

Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget yesterday, and it does not include the increases for street safety projects that the City Council recommended earlier this month, says Transportation Alternatives. Without more funding for street redesigns, TA says, the administration won’t be able to improve safety at the pace needed to attain the mayor’s stated goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

On street safety, de Blasio hasn’t put his money where his mouth is.

De Blasio’s revised executive budget includes a small 1.3 percent increase for DOT’s Traffic Operations division, which executes the low-cost “operational” street safety projects that can be completed much faster than years-long capital projects. It’s not a meaningful change.

At a March budget hearing in the City Council, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said DOT would need to double the number of low-cost redesigns projects it completes each year in order to meet its Vision Zero goals.

At the same hearing, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said it would take “many billions of dollars” to redesign the priority corridors and intersections identified in the city’s pedestrian safety plans, while insisting, “We very much feel we have the resources we need.”

But at the current pace of improvement, NYC won’t get to zero traffic deaths until the 2050s.

The City Council recommended an additional $52.4 million in FY 2017 for 98 “operational” projects in its response to the mayor’s budget, a roughly 25 percent increase. The council also proposed $250 million in annual capital funding for street redesigns.

The budget City Hall released yesterday follows none of those recommendations.

“It’s not what we expect from an administration that’s supposed to be putting traffic safety front and center,” TA Policy and Research Manager Julia Kite told Streetsblog. “We’d like to see [street redesigns] treated like the priority that we think they are.”

While pedestrian fatalities declined in the first two years of the de Blasio administration, Kite said that as of April 15, the number of fatalities is exactly the same as in 2015.

White added that redesigning streets is even more important given the NYPD’s lack of commitment to Vision Zero enforcement.

On May 17, the City Council transportation committee is set for another hearing with DOT on the budget. White said there’s still time for de Blasio to dedicate more resources to streets.

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