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NYS DOT Commissioner, Astrid Glynn

Today I had the opportunity to sit down with New York State DOT Commissioner, Astrid Glynn. We set out discussing the greenway projects in the Bronx and the future of the Sheridan Expressway. (Note: Streetfilms will be bringing you a comprehensive video on these topics in the upcoming weeks.) Here you will find excerpts from our discussion on a host of other issues including, smart growth, the budget, testifying on the stimulus package, State DOT project timelines, and the SafeSeniors program on Long Island.

</p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [00:00] My name is Astrid Glynn and I am the Commissioner of the New York State Transportation Department. </font> <br></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [00:06] Commissioner, can you start off by talking about the importance of Smart Growth. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [00:11] Smart Growth is good economics as well as good environmental policy. One of the statistics that we came across was that if you build a traditional suburban development, you are likely to spend 50% of your local tax revenue on the infrastructure you need to support that suburban development. That doesn’t leave a whole lot for a Mayor to spend on schools, fire, police. So if you can have the more… actually more traditional village or urban environment, which is more compact, more efficient, it really works out better for all concerned. It also gives choice, and this is one of the things that I’m hoping will in the long run as we move to different demographics play out more. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [01:04] You mentioned allocating money, what is your budget and what revenue streams are you looking at?</font> <br></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [01:09] Our budget is no better than anyone else’s I’m afraid. Our budget is dependant on many variables, including the gas tax. The good news is that people are driving less. The bad news is that when they drive less, we have less money. So we have… we are hoping that with the Federal Stimulus package, and then with the renewed authorisation of the basic Federal Highway and Transit programme, which is due in the… end of September, that we will get the sort of uptake that we need, because even before the current budget constraints we had done a study that indicated that there are needs out there twice the level of what we have traditionally had as resources.</font> <br> </p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [02:02] You testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, what was this about?</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [02:08] About the Stimulus package, because one of the questions that had come up was if we put money, Stimulus money, into infrastructure, roads and bridges and Transit, will it be spent in time to have the economic effect we’re looking for? And the answer from myself and the other people who testified, was yes, we can get the projects out there, we can put the people to work. We have such a backup, backlog of needs that we can start putting projects out almost immediately and actually have people working on these projects this summer. And these will not be make way projects. These are projects that they may not be terribly sexy, but things such as repairing bridges, repairing culverts, work that needs to be done as part of good housekeeping for the system. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [03:05] But it seems to take the State DOT a bit of time to complete its projects, why is that?</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [03:11] There are a couple of reasons. One is the fact that if this is a large project making a significant change in the area, it deserves a good deal of environmental scrutiny. It also deserves the time to make sure that the community, and that’s not just the host community, but the community affected, the travelling community on either side of the host communities, is really supportive of this. So we need to make sure we’re doing the right thing, we need to make sure there is good support for the project, we need to make sure that we have adequately analysed the environmental impacts and, where appropriate, mitigate them. We also need to find the money. It shouldn’t take as long as it does and there are ways to shorten it, and we’re hoping that some of the speed that is being required of us in the Stimulus exercise, that as we figure out ways to move the Stimulus projects more quickly, that will give us some lessons learned that can be applied to our regular programme so that we can expedite things such as permitting, so that we can expedite things such as our bidding process, our procurement process, and do it a little faster. But what we don’t want to see done is short-change the time for consensus building and analysis of what does it mean, is this a good idea. We want to short-change, shrink the time for the multiple steps where it’s first the State review, then the Federal review, then back again, then back again. That’s where we’d like to see a little compression. </font> <br> </p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [04:53] You’ve recently started a new programme on Long Island called SafeSeniors. How is it doing, and do you plan on expanding it to other areas of the State?</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [05:03] Once we have it sorted out on Long Island we’ll be able to apply State-wide. Because it came to our attention on Long Island with some work that some of the Long Island advocacy groups had done in terms of the pedestrian accident rate, and what we’re trying to do, it’s simply making sure that these corridors are safe for all sorts of travel, not just for people in cars, but for people in bicycles, people who are walking, and make sure that we analyse safety from that full corridor perspective. And of course when you are doing that, the needs of seniors are one of the special needs that have to be identified and sometimes the fix can be very simple. It can be a matter of signal timing, it can be a matter of additional pedestrian crosswalks. It doesn’t have to be an expensive fix, but it needs to really look at it from the standpoint of, if I were trying to walk here, what would I want, and what would make it easier and safer for me. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [06:14] And finally, I’m just curious, how do you get to work?</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [06:18] In Albany, in Albany I drive and it is a hybrid, I will claim that much virtue. But in Albany, it’s again the example I can drive in 20 minutes or I could take the bus for probably… I think I had discovered… I timed it out once and it would be something close to an hour. But this is an example of if we don’t provide people with choice, they’re always going to go for the choice that is there. And in a lot of communities, particularly up State and in the less dense areas, transit is not about congestion relief necessarily, it can simply be about providing people choice. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Elizabeth Press</i>: [07:04] Perfect, thank you. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Astrid Glynn</i>: [07:06] Thank you.</font> <br></p> <a href="http://transcriptdivas.ca/">Transcript Divas Transcription Services </a>
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  • herenthere

    Hopefully, she can help convince the NYS and NYC politicians that congestion pricing/increased bridge tolling will help commuters and taxpayers.