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Corey Johnson Tells DOT that It Better Put out the ‘Streets Master Plan’ on Time

4:41 PM EST on November 10, 2021

Council Speaker Corey Johnson chats with the Fourth Estate. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

It better be good.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson, reacting to a New York Post report that the Department of Transportation will fail to met its legal requirement to publish the Streets Master Plan by Dec. 1, demanded that the agency not only meet the deadline, but do so with a truly "transformative" proposal.

"They have been given more than two years to put this together," Johnson said at a gaggle on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday. "This is incredibly important. It is one of the things I am most passionate about. One of the most important things I have worked on over the last four years. It will have a transformative effect on the entire city, so they better have it published."

Johnson said that he has been "told" that a draft of the report is "really substantial, thorough, ambitious [and] well-crafted, but he added, "It's not good enough to hear that. They need to publish the report. Whoever else needs to look at it, needs to look at it and publish it by Dec. 1."

The Streets Master Plan was a major initiative of Johnson in 2019. Intro 1557 required the city to create a “master plan” for installing 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes, plus plazas and other improvements, within five years, instead of the city’s current piecemeal approach.

Johnson has said it will cost $1.7 billion over 10 years to undertake all the work that is envisioned by the plan. Mayor de Blasio initially opposed the bill, but signed on after Johnson pushed the deadline for implementation until after the next mayor takes over. (The master plan was considered so ambitious when it passed that it later become the subject of a Streetsblog Christmas Carol.)

The Post story about the delay in producing the report leaned hard on the fact that the DOT had committed to sharing a draft of the plan at public workshops in September and October, but "no such workshops have occurred," the paper reported.

The apparent delay in creation of the master plan was of particular concern to Transportation Alternatives, which, along with Families for Safe Streets, advocated for a mandated set of street improvements.

“New York City faces a climate crisis, rising traffic deaths, and growing inequality. The Streets Master Plan will help address this all, and New Yorkers should be very concerned if Mayor de Blasio delays its release," said the group's spokesperson, Cory Epstein. "New Yorkers expect, as required by law, that the Streets Master Plan will still be released on time.”

Johnson sought to put the best spin on it.

"I should hope [the plan] is not disappointing," he said. "I have heard is that it is a very ambitious plan that people will be very excited about. They need to put it out ... before Dec. 1. That is what the law says. It better happen."

As he shuffled off to a Council meeting, several reporters simultaneously asked Johnson, "Or what?" but the Speaker did not answer. It is, indeed, unclear if there is any punishment if the city fails to meet the deadline.

DOT spokesman Seth Stein neither confirmed nor denied the Post report, nor addressed specific questions from Streetsblog, saying, "We are currently reviewing the Streets Master Plan and will have more to say about its release soon.”

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