As U.S. Supreme Court eviscerates EPA power, NYS embarks on freeway expansion spree – Streetsblog New York City


Don’t just blame the Supreme Court for failing to protect the environment.

The State Department of Transportation currently has 24 freeway or road widening projects underway or planned around the Empire State, a chilling reminder that the SCOTUS ruling preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from Regulating carbon emissions isn’t the only recent decision that fails to protect Americans from climate change.

Here they are - your statewide highway plans.  Chart: NYS DOT
Here they are – your statewide highway plans. Chart: NYS DOT

The total cost of the 24 ongoing and planned projects is $1.23 billion. Nowhere on the state’s project description page are the deleterious environmental impacts of these 24 freeway projects even mentioned. Instead, the state calls them “security” projects. Nor does it say that all residents of New York State now have a constitutionally protected right to “clean air and water, and a healthy environment.” (A full list of current projects can be found at the bottom of this story.)

But if you know where to look (and have endless time, as journalists do, to dig into the data), you learn that the impacts of these projects are significant. The ongoing $1 billion widening of the Van Wyck Expressway, for example, will, according to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment, increase PM2.5 particles in the air by 14% and the effect of traffic noise will be “negative”. (All this to reduce the journey time between the Kew Gardens interchange and Kennedy Airport from eight to 15 minutes – an optimistic forecast given the induced demand.) The report also claims that the widened carriageway and lane of service will have fewer accidents – if some major crosswalks are removed.

And all the projects promise to increase vehicle capacity.

And that’s why environmentalists and transit advocates are calling out Governor Hochul for her failure to rein in her own state transit agency.

“With federal climate action restricted by the Supreme Court, the Governor and Mayor of New York must do more to stop climate change to set a global example and protect New Yorkers from extreme heat and flooding. “Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said in a statement. “As excessive driving is a huge contributor to New York’s carbon footprint, state and local leaders need to take advantage of our vast public transit system like never before.

“Governor. Hochul must fund more frequent bus and rail service, divert federal infrastructure funds from expanding national highways to reliable and accessible public transportation, and implement public transit pricing. congestion as quickly as possible.

That’s not to say that all state projects are bogus or won’t improve safety – or ignore that there are dozens of other state projects that improve greenways and seek to mitigate the racist impact of past highway projects (like this one in Buffalo). Nor is the list below meant to suggest that the state is currently wasting more money than it has in the past. But the list below Is show that in the midst of a climate emergency — one that won’t get any help from the U.S. Supreme Court — it’s business as usual at the New York State Department of Transportation.

“These two dozen projects show that the New York State DOT is in full climate change denial mode,” said Eric McClure, executive director of StreetsPAC. “Money poured into road expansion would make a significant difference to woefully underfunded public transit systems across the state, helping to get more people out of cars than these wasteful projects could speed up by seconds. here and there. The nearly $1 billion in public funds invested in widening the Van Wyck Expressway would be better spent making the JFK Skytrain free for the next five years. Trying to widen our path out of gridlock or impending climate catastrophe is an exercise in futility, and New Yorkers deserve better.

Here is a full list:

  • Adding a left turn lane onto Coram Mount Sinai Road southbound at the intersection with Route 25 at Brookhaven in Suffolk County and adding an eastbound passing lane from Route 25 at this intersection, involving widening of Highway 25. ($7,000,000)
  • Widening of Glen Cove Road in North Hempstead to provide “an additional left turn lane”. ($7,300,000)
  • Widening of the Hospital Road Bridge on Route 27 at Brookhaven in Suffolk County to ‘address the need for increased capacity’. ($22,782,602)
  • Widening of intersection and addition of turning lanes on Edwards Avenue at Highway 25 at Riverhead in Suffolk County ($5,500,000)
  • Widening the 15N exit ramp (northbound Corona Avenue) to accommodate both northbound and southbound traffic in Huntington in Suffolk County. ($6,500,000)
  • Six separate stations for “minor roadway repairs and widening” in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The projects, at $6 million each, have no details beyond improvements for drivers and will run until 2032. It’s unclear if these items are some kind of road slush fund. ($36,000,000)
  • Widening of Route 101 and Port Washington Boulevard in North Hempstead in Nassau County; on Route 25 at Sweet Hollow Road and Charles Road in Huntington in Suffolk County; and on Route 25 at Parker Road in Riverhead. ($6,500,000)
  • Widening of Route 25 at Community Drive in North Hempstead; Route 109 at Main Street in Oyster Bay in Nassau County; Route 25 at Harned Road in Smithtown in Suffolk County; Route 25A at Nissequoque River Road in Smithtown; Route 25 at Oaklawn Avenue in Southold in Suffolk County. ($4,600,000)
  • “Corridor improvements” including “widening” and “addition of an eastbound climbing lane” on Route 5S between County Road 27 and the entrance to the Hill Market Florida facility in the Montgomery County. ($6,500,000)
  • Replaces the Route 386 bridge over Black Creek (ironically known as the “James E. Widener Memorial Bridge”) in Chili, Monroe County. ($4,850,000)
  • Widening for additional lanes at the intersections of the I-390 ramps and Route 383 in Chile. ($2,400,000)
  • Widening to provide new shoulders on Highway 270 from North French Road to the Erie County line in Amherst. ($4,550,000)
  • Reconstruction and widening of the intersection of US Route 62 and NYS Route 429 in Wheatfield to include a left turn lane. ($12,000,000)
  • Reconstruct and widen US Route 62 to provide a consistent section of roadway with two lanes of traffic in each direction. ($14,000,000)
  • Shoulder widening for 0.72 miles of Highway 28 in Meredith, Delaware County. ($2,387,777)
  • Replacement of deteriorated elements of the Shore Parkway Bridge over Shell Road and MTA-NYCTA subway stations in Brooklyn. “This project will also investigate the feasibility of widening the Shore Parkway Bridge.” ($110,000,000)
  • Replacement of the Bronx River Parkway above the north subway tracks to “improve passenger safety”. The project also includes “widening the Bronx River Parkway northbound and improving the features of the existing freeway…for vehicle safety.” ($64,365,000)
  • Extending the fourth lane of the Cross Bronx Freeway northbound from Exit 9 to Exit 11 by widening the stone-faced bridge of the Cross Bronx Freeway northbound over Hutchinson River Parkway. ($28,000,000)
  • Widening of the Van Wyck Expressway from three to four lanes (and five in some places) in each direction from Queens Boulevard to 133rd Avenue near John F. Kennedy Airport. ($900,000,000)

Streetsblog has contacted Governor Hochul’s office and will update this story if we hear back.

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