State Assemblymembers hold hearing on DOT’s capital program

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State lawmakers took a look at how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the State Department of Transportation — specifically the DOT’s Capital Plan.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out his budget at the beginning of the year, it included a two-year $11.9 billion DOT capital plan for roads, bridges and more. But State DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said the plan was limited in duration due to the “uncertainty of federal transportation aid.” 

“Federal aid remains a key component in developing a long-term, fiscally responsible plan as it comprises 40% of the program total. With the impact of the coronavirus nearing its peak, this state enacted a one-year, $6.1 billion capital program, which represented a sizable increase of $1.5 billion over the prior year,” Dominguez said. She said that’s still on track for the year. 

Another concern is funding for the CHIPS program for local street and highway improvements, the Extreme Winter Recovery Program (EWR), and PAVE-NY. The DOT’s website said those budgets may be subject to a reduction of up to 20 percent. 

In a statement, State Division of the Budget Spokesperson Freeman Klopott said:

“These programs are paid on a reimbursement basis, and localities were informed in June that while we wait for the federal government to agree on aid for the states to offset New York State’s $62 billion, four-year revenue loss, they could see an up to 20% temporary withholding. Investments like these in the state’s transportation infrastructure are critical to our ability to revive the economy, and the federal government must deliver funding so that New York State as producer of 8% of the national GDP can lead the national recovery.”

There have also been significant impacts to transit ridership. 

“We are doing everything we can to continue to maintain our level of investment given the impact of COVID and make sure that we not only encourage, but educate everybody on the safety and the measures that everyone’s taking to make sure that our transit systems are safe clean and available for everyone,” Dominguez said.

DOT employees have also worn different hats throughout the pandemic. Dominguez said DOT workers have assisted with health screenings at airports and vetted more than 80,000 volunteer healthcare professionals. 

“DOT personnel are truly essential, having helped stand up in support of temporary hospitals and clinical testing centers and distributing more than 1 million test kits to nearly 1,200 nursing homes across the state,” said Dominguez.

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