New York City sees many ‘wins’ in federal transportation bill
On Tuesday, with Congress poised to approve the most comprehensive transportation bill in years, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior legislative adviser in Washington, D.C., sent out an internal memo declaring the pending legislation a victory for New York City.
“NYC’s top priorities are included in the conferenced transportation authorization,” Georgia Gann, de Blasio's senior legislative adviser specializing in infrastructure issues, stated in a memo circulated to Hill staffers working for New York City’s congressional delegation.
Since then, the House of Representatives has approved the $305 billion, five-year bill. The Senate is expected to approve it shortly.
Not only does the five-year legislation provide relatively long-term transportation funding for the first time since 2005, it increases funding for New York City by about $500 million, or $100 million a year, Gann's memo stated. Even better, it noted, the legislation “rolls back threats to cut transit funding for New York subway and bus riders, instead increasing funding for core transit programs that benefit NYC.”
De Blasio has lobbied steadily for more federal transportation funding, in Washington and here at home, both with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and without.
As recently as last Tuesday, de Blasio showed up at Penn Station to demand more federal transportation funding. Republican officials like Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino appeared alongside him, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to snipe at him, and Astorino to imply there was something wrong with the governor's mental fitness.
Staten Island’s Dan Donovan, New York City’s lone Republican in Congress, was also at that press conference.
“Dan being the only member of the majority, he has access to the majority conferees that other representatives don’t have,” said Patrick Ryan, Donovan’s spokesman.
On Thursday, Ryan said the transportation bill includes about $3 million a year for the Staten Island Ferry, which was Donovan’s “main focus,” as well as a priority for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
New York also had the benefit of being able to count two Democrats — Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Chuck Schumer — among the “conferees” who hammered out the differences between the House and Senate legislation.
In his memo, Gann listed plenty of other “wins” for non-Staten Islanders.
The bill does away with the $80 million a year in threatened cuts to New York City transit.
It increases funding for a program called “Small Starts,” which could benefit New York City’s plans for an ambitious bus rapid transit line on Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens.
The bill also, unusually, includes money for Amtrak, whose Northeast Corridor line runs through New York City and is in dire need of repair.
"We are hopeful that Congress will quickly pass this bill, which would reverse the transit cut and secure the increased funding for our roads, bridges, transit, and ferries for which Mayor de Blasio and a broad coalition of leaders have long fought,” de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick, said in an email.
Read the memo here: https://politi.co/1NsK2DR