By Andrew J. Pisani
2015 was busy across the board, and we saw important progress with respect to infrastructure issues facing New York City and New York State. Behind this progress are people – the public officials that drove these issues on the 2015 agenda.
- Senator Chuck Schumer was responsible for the Amtrak Gateway Program in 2015. Senator Schumer led the call for new federal funding and a dedicated development corporation to oversee planning and construction of the proposed cross-Hudson rail tunnels. Senator Schumer won several critical funding tools for Gateway in the new federal surface transportation bill.
- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a full redesign of LaGuardia Airport in 2015. The 2015 Building Congress Policy Agenda argued that the redesign was essential to “support the extraordinary growth in regional air travel and its vital economic impacts.”
- Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented a 2016 Capital Program. The Mayor’s ten-year capital program was similarly strong. Facing unprecedented economic expansion and population growth, the demands on infrastructure continue to increase. The Building Congress will advocate augmenting the strong budget with new, dedicated revenues and improvements to project delivery in the coming year.
- Senator Diane Savino was the force behind passing the New York Emergency Responder Act in the Senate. This legislative priority for the Building Congress would indemnify firms in the design and construction industry when they respond to a declared emergency. The Building Congress will make passage in the Assembly a top priority for 2016.
- Another Building Congress priority to make substantial progress was a funding plan for the MTA’s $29 billion 2015-2019 capital program. State Legislature must first approve the funding during the 2016 legislative session if the project is to move forward. Gaining final approvals will be a top priority in the early part of the next session. Assembly Member James Brennen was a forceful advocate for the plan.
- The State Legislature reauthorized the State Department of Transportation to employ Design Build procurement and delivery of road and bridge construction projects. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle helped ensure passage of this legislation.
- The Building Congress continued its campaign with New York City Council Members, communicating the need for dedicated revenues for infrastructure. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, have been receptive to this idea, and the Building Congress will work to build on this interest in the coming year.
- The New York Delegation to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led byCongressman Jerry Nadler, delivered important victories for New York in the new Surface Transportation bill – the FAST ACT. The FAST ACT provides new funding and broadens access to low-cost loans for mass transit and roads in New York, and assures funding certainty for six years.
- Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said, “In many ways, 2015 was a successful year for New York’s infrastructure priorities. However, much work remains to be done. In addition to completing a funding plan that will jump start the MTA capital program, the State, the City and elected officials should use their authority to encourage innovation – like the creation of new dedicated funding streams and alternative project delivery methods – tools that are increasingly essential to the long-term health of New York’s infrastructure and the larger economy.”