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New York Governor Cuomo Proposes $15 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - 05:31 PM

UPDATED WITH TRANSCRIPT: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to build, build, build.   In his state of the state address Wednesday, he put forth a $15 billion plan to repair roads, bridges,  parks, flood control, and municipal water systems. (Transcript of his actual remarks below)

Cuomo did not specifically refer to transit projects, (in fact, the word "transit" wasn't uttered during the speech) though he did discuss capital construction by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which he controls.

Cuomo said all the investment would come under one umbrella "New York Works" fund.

"Right now, believe it or not, agencies and authorities do their own construction, their own development,  their own master plan – all  disconnected one from the other, without even any conversation."

In a speech that veered wildly from prepared remarks, Cuomo said:  "So the MTA has a capital plan that they are pursuing different that the Port Authority, which has a capital plan which it's pursuing , different from the Department of Transportation which has a capital plan which its pursuing , different from the Department Of Housing which has a capital plan that it’ pursuing.  It makes no sense.  It never did. This is not the time to be squandering resources. "

The idea of having one entity make funding decisions won praise from planners: "The state has really been substandard in capital construction," said the Citizens' Budget Commissions Elizabeth Lynam.  "It's a long time coming that they tried to orchestrate that."

"In the long run if you put together a board that looks to state infrastructure interests--  not just political interests -- that can be very strong," added City College of New York Professor Robert "Buz" Paaswell.  But Paaswell said setting up a fund would be very complex -- since authorities can legally borrow, while the state DOT cannot.

But transit advocates were dismayed by Cuomo's glancing over public transportation.

“While the Governor is right to call for greater investment in infrastructure, Albany cannot continue to give short shrift to funding transit across our state,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. “Public transit projects create a jobs dividend that stretches from the five-boroughs to Upstate New York. From manufacturing jobs in the North Country to construction jobs in the metropolitan area, fully funding public transit not only helps get millions of people to work every day, it creates good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.”

Cuomo first introduced the idea of an infrastructure bank during his tax proposal, which passed last month.  In his state of the state he offered more details, but the governor has yet to release a full-blown plan.

"We want to find a  20 to 1 leverage in these projects so we maximize the impact of the state money," Cuomo said.

Among the fund's uses:  "We are planning to improve more than 100 bridges which will include finally building a new Tappan Zee bridge, because 15 years of planning and talking and commiserating is too long. It is time to build and to act and to perform."

"We are going to repair 2000 miles of roads," he added.  "That’s from Buffalo to New York City 5 times. We are going finance upgrades to 90 municipal water systems,  improve 48 parks and historic sites that are visited by 37 million people per year.  And after hurricane Irene and storm Lee repair 114 flood control projects across this state."

Cuomo also proposed a $2 billion "energy highway" from Quebec to New York City.

"We have a tremendous need for power in downstate New York.  Let's connect the supply dots to the need what Eisenhower did in the 50s by building an interstate system is what this energy highway can be to the next generation."

TRANSCRIPT OF CUOMO'S REMARKS FOLLOWS:

I’m proposing setting up the New York works fund and task force.  This task force will be made up of leading public and private3 sector experts and members of the legislature.  It will coordinate for the first time all the states capital construction,

 

Right now, believe it or not, agencies and authorities do their own construction, their own development,  their own master plan – all  disconnected one from the other, without even any conversation.

 

So the MTA has a capital plan that they are pursuing different that the Port Authority which has a capital plan which its pursuing , different from the Department of Transportation which has a capital plan which its pursuing , different from the Department Of Housing which has a capital plan that it’ pursuing.

 

It makes no sense it never did.   This is not the time to be squandering resources.  You can’t have that many agencies and authorities coming up with their own vision for the state -- we need a comprehensive vision and we need the expertise frankly to help us get it done. It’s not the state’s forte.

 

There are people in the private sector who are expert at this who want to be helpful. We want to invite them in, put together a task force, and actually lead this effort.

 

We want a comprehensive master plan of all of the state’s construction over the next few years and how we can coordinate and maximize that work that work to have a positive synergy among the projects.   We also want to accelerate the construction.

 

We cant do this on government time -- this has to happen on real time. It can’t take 3 years to put a shovel in the ground, it just can’t work that way any more.  And it’s not going to.

 

(applause)

 

As I said in the beginning the task for us is to find leverage with private sector partners. We want to find a  20 to 1 leverage in these projects so we maximize the impact of the state money.

 

We are planning to improve more than 100 bridges which will include finally building a new Tappan Zee bridge, because 15 years of planning and talking and commiserating is too long.  I is time to build and to act and to perform.

 

We are going to repair 2000 miles of roads.  That’s from Buffalo to New York City 5 times. We are going finance upgrades to 90 municipal water systems,  improve 48 parks and historic sites that are visited by 37 million people per year.  And after hurricane Irene and storm Lee repair 114 flood control projects across this state.

 

Let’s build an energy highway system that doesn’t exist now…we have supply of power in northern New York, Quebec, we have power supply in western ny we have a tremendous need for power in downstate ny lets connect the supply dots to the need what Eisenhower did in the 50s by building an interstate system is what this energy highway can be to the next generation.

 

If we want the state to develop and we need the job and we need the businesses,  we’re going to need the power this is the way we’re going to do it.

 

The state can master plan a system, issue an ftp  allow private sector companies to come to in to bid it  build it we believe it can generate $2 billion in infrastructure. This is no doubt a comprehensive and ambitious jobs program, 15 billion in infrastructure,  4 billion for a convention center, 2 billion for Javits transformation, 2 billion for energy, 1 billion for gaming,  1 billion for buffalo that we believe will generate additional money for the private sector.  This program will make a major impact on the of this state’s economy if we get it done.

 

 

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