Yet Another Study a Waste of Money
by Larry Penner
Feb 08, 2017 | 6766 views | 0 0 comments | 458 458 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Borough President Melinda Katz's call for "Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to create a comprehensive plan with a macro view and citywide coordinated agenda for transportation" in her annual State of the Borough speech was disappointing.

It represents a waste of taxpayers dollars for yet another transportation study.

Last year, we had a proposed amendment to the city charter by the City Council requiring both the Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study potential light rail systems and passenger service on existing freight rail lines in all five boroughs.

Both issues have been previously studied on numerous occasions by various planning and transportation agencies going back decades.

We already have several Queens-based ongoing transportation studies, including potential restoration of service on the old Rockaway Beach LIRR branch, light rail on the lower Montauk LIRR branch, and Flushing intermodal improvements, just to name a few.

The state Department of Transportation (SDOT) maintains a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), and every urbanized area affiliated with SDOT maintains a local Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Both STIP and TIP includes a complete inventory of potential transportation improvement projects and estimated cost. SDOT maintains short and long-range potential transportation improvement projects.

Every year, millions of dollars is spent by city and state agencies for planning studies to research the potential for new transportation capital investments and system expansion. All of these agencies periodically conduct transportation planning feasibility studies.

Has anyone ever taken a complete inventory of all these studies? Have they checked out the recommendations, estimated costs, timeline for implementation, or identification of potential funding going forward?

Who checks to see that one study is not just a duplication of a previous study for the same issue?

Too many transportation studies championed by numerous elected officials are nothing more than placebos designed to placate demagogues who are not regular users of the numerous public transportation alternatives that have been available for decades.

The real problem is finding money to make things happen. All too often, funding for studies would have been better spent on real capital and operating improvements instead of just lining the pockets of consultants.

How many studies end up on the shelves of planners collecting dust? How many times do we end up with a series of press conferences and news releases designed to provide free publicity for elected officials to assist them in greasing the wheels of future elections?

These same elected officials promise a bright future, but leave riders holding an empty bag

Larry Penner is a Great Neck resident who worked for 31 years with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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