According to the NYSDOT's long-awaited Long Island Transportation Plan 2000, the NY State DOT intends to expand nearly all of Long Island's highways. The DOT seeks new faux "transit" on Suffolk Route 97, the Southern State, Northern State, Meadowbrook, Sunken Meadow and Saglikos Parkways.
The DOT may label them "bus" or "transit" lanes; however, the new lanes will be open to cars carrying two or more people, and will simply shift some motorists onto a new lane while doing little to speed buses. It's past time that the DOT abandon the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) hoax and call a highway widening what it is. After all, at least elsewhere on LI, DOT is unabashedly proposing road widenings on NY 110, the Wantagh State Parkway, the Veterans Memorial Highway and Suffolk's William Floyd Parkway. The DOT's mammoth highway widening scheme comes as a severe disappointment to the many citizens who participated in LI 2000 and hoped for a thoughtful and balanced transportation plan. Instead, they got a highway fantasy straight out of the 1950's.
DOT seems not to have heard about Governor Pataki's "Quality Communities" executive order, which directs all state agencies to develop plans for encouraging "smart growth" through activities and investments. The agency's fixation with expanding Long Island's highways is an expensive disaster that will aggravate the sprawl and car dependence which already plague Long Island.
After extensive study, the NYSDOT has recommended that the Staten Island Expressway receive an express bus lane. To ensure the proposed lane serve its intended purpose, T.A. and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign have suggested that it take on a guided busway form (see accompanying image). The busway would make transit safer as well as faster, a serious concern if the service expects to fulfill its promise to be speedy and efficient. The guided busway would also forcibly prevent automobiles from using the lane, a pressing worry considering the NYSDOT's recent trouble enforcing transit lane restrictions on the automobile-filled Gowanus Expressway.
For those of you who have seen the Port Authority hold off for over a decade without charging more than a dollar to whisk you across the Hudson, the inevitable has finally happened. The Port Authority plan includes a fare hike sometime in 2001, and a completely new fleet of PATH trains within 15 years. Though an increased fare is sensible, the Port Authority should seize this opportunity to reward loyal PATH users with the following measures suggested by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules in May intended to slash smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by 95%, and asthma-inducing particulate soot by 90% by 2007. Key to achieving these goals is the planned reduction of the sulfur content in diesel fuel to 97%.
The proposal promises to deliver needed relief to New Yorkers' lungs. The City has one of the country's highest asthma rates, and violates even the most relaxed clean air standards. Diesel soot increases asthma attacks, cancer, heart disease and other serious health ailments. Nitrogen oxides aggravate ozone levels, acid rain and nutrient pollution in our waterways. Diesel emissions make up one third of the Northeast's smog-forming nitrogen oxides.
EPA's proposal has found support among environmentalists and public health organizations. Oil companies, on the other hand, oppose the plan, since sulfur-laden diesel costs less.