The car drives past the pothole with puddles on the road.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $1 billion infrastructure initiative in January that she called “a declaration of war on potholes.” In upstate New York, roads take a pounding from cold, snowy winters, while New York City streets receive their daily beating from millions of residents and commuters, she said.

More than $13.4 billion in new federal funding is expected to flow into New York state over the next five years from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, prompting Hochul to launch Operation POP (Pave Our Potholes). The Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) five-year, $32.8 billion capital plan – which aims to modernize highways and bridges – commits $150 million to local highway aid annually and $200 million per year over five years for Operation POP. NYC is expected to receive $108 million in increased transportation aid in fiscal year 2023, according to state budget documents.

Operation POP will likely not start until the fall of 2022 and keeping up with potholes in NYC is no easy task. The city needs at least 1,000 miles of road resurfacing per year just to remain at its current level of quality. It would need more than 1,200 additional miles of resurfacing per year to actually improve road conditions. The city has about 20,000 lane miles of asphalt.

Each year the city determines its resurfacing needs based on road conditions, which factor in the needs of individual streets as determined by community boards. Streets are rated block by block, and asphalt is allocated based on need.

Hochul also recently made headlines for her proposed executive budget’s details on the MTA’s congestion pricing program, which is expected to toll drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street. She said she wants to ensure the system “has teeth,” and expects it to begin operating next year, as planned, to provide crucial revenue for transit upgrades.

The proposed budget also includes new fine structures and rules preventing drivers from obscuring license plates to avoid paying tolls, as well as changing their vehicle registration to avoid paying tickets.

“Number plates shall be kept clean and in a condition so as to be easily readable and shall not be covered by glass or any plastic material,” the budget stated.

Those attempting to fraudulently get a congestion pricing exemption or falsely claiming they are transporting a person with a disability – one of the few exemptions written into the original law – also face serious consequences, including being charged with a misdemeanor and fines set as high as $5,000.

Still, many details remain undecided, such as how much drivers will ultimately pay, if there are any exemptions other than the ones written into the law, and how drivers will be charged. While it will likely be through the E-Z Pass program, the MTA hasn’t yet said exactly what type of devices will be placed around the city to capture drivers’ license plates.

The MTA hopes the program will raise $1 billion a year, which it could use to sell bonds and raise $15 billion for capital improvements to its rail and bus networks. To raise that type of revenue, the state needs to be able to collect tolls from drivers and root out scofflaws that try to evade them.

While state law exempts emergency vehicles, vehicles that transport disabled people and residents that live in the zone and earn under $60,000 from paying the congestion pricing fee, there are currently no other exemptions.

Sources: Crain’s New York Business, Gothamist

Article by Black Car News

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