CAPITAL DISTRICT TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

 

Meeting Minutes

December 1, 2011

 

 

MEMBERS ATTENDING

 

Carm Basile, Capital District Transportation Authority

Steve Feeney, representing Judith Dagostino, Schenectady County

Michael Franchini, representing Michael Breslin, Albany County

James Gaughan, Mayor of the Village of Altamont

Terry Hurley, Albany Port District Commission

Steve Iachetta, representing John O’Donnell, Albany County

  Airport Authority

Mary Ivey, NYS Department of Transportation Region 1, Secretary

Andrew Kreshik, representing Mayor Harry Tutunjian, City of Troy

Joe LaCivita, representing Supervisor Paula Mahan, Town of
 
Colonie

Joseph Landry, Supervisor, Town of Niskayuna

Michael Loftus. NYS Thruway Authority

Mayor John T. McDonald III, City of Cohoes, Chairman

Rosemary Nichols, representing, Mayor Michael Manning, City of
 
Watervliet

Deirdre Rudolph, representing Mayor Gerald Jennings, City of

  Albany

Ann Shaughnessy, representing Martin Reid, Rensselaer County

Michael Stammel. Capital District Regional Planning Commission

Linda von der Heide, representing Kathleen Jimino, Rensselaer

  County

Tom Werner, Saratoga County

 

STAFF AND OTHERS

 

Anne Benware, Capital District Transportation Committee

Frank Bonafide, NYS Department of Transportation Region 1

Jennifer Ceponis, Capital District Transportation Committee

Martin Daley, Parks and Trails

Christopher Franklin, Capital District Transportation Committee

John Grady, NYS Department of Transportation Region 1

David Jukins, Capital District Transportation Committee

Brian Kehoe, New York Bicycle Coalition

Mike McCarthy, NYS Department of Transportation Region 1

Sree Nampoothiri, Capital District Transportation Committee

Jason Purvis, Capital District Transportation Committee

Dave Richards, NYS Department of Transportation Region 1

Deb Stacey, Capital District Transportation Committee

 

OPENING REMARKS

 

Chairman McDonald opened the Capital District Transportation Committee meeting at 3:05 pm and welcomed those in attendance.  Members and attendees introduced themselves.

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

Approval of the September 15, 2011 Meeting Minutes

 

The September 15, 2011 meeting minutes were accepted with a correction noting that Mayor Gaughan was in attendance at the September 15 meeting.

 

Administrative & Financial Standing Subcommittee Report

 

David Jukins reported on the A&F Standing Subcommittee meeting of October 25, 2011.  The Subcommittee reviewed CDTC’s most recent audit, and selected a winner among the numerous nominations for the Fred Field Award.  Staff continuity and transitions related to staff retirement plans were also discussed.

 

Self-Certification of CDTC’s Planning Process

 

David Jukins explained CDTC must annually self-certify our planning process except for the years when a formal face to face federal certification takes place.  These occur every four years with FHWA and FTA staff; the last one was in 2008, the next will be in 2012. The self-certification process asks the Planning Committee and Policy Board to review and certify that CDTC is meeting the federal requirements for development and adoption of the long-range plan (New Visions), the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the UPWP (Unified Planning Work Program). It was noted that recommendations from the 2008 FHWA certification report have been completed or corrected. The Planning Committee recommends Policy Board action on the self-certification which will serve as documentation that CDTC is in compliance with SAFETEA-LU requirements. Members approved the self-certification document.

 

PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR

 

Chairman McDonald indicated that CDTC provides an opportunity for visitors to address items on the agenda.  There were no comments from the floor.

 

PRESENTATION OF THE FRED FIELD AWARD FOR THE I-87 EXIT 6 SINGLE-POINT URBAN INTERCHANGE PROJECT

 

Mayor MacDonald stated there was extensive outreach for award nominations and many were received this year.  He noted Fred Field provided unwavering support for CDTC; for transportation investments and services; for bipartisanship, governmental cooperation, community and regional planning and innovation.  Fred represented the Capital District Regional Planning Commission on the CDTC Policy Board, serving as CDTC’s vice-chairman and chairman for many years. 

 

To hold to Fred’s principles of fairness, responsibility, collaboration, and innovation, CDTC established this award to honor the individual, group, or project best reflecting these principles in the area of transportation and community planning, design, and implementation.

 

This year, CDTC is pleased to honor the New York State Department of Transportation for its successful effort in designing and building the new Exit 6 Bridge carrying Route 7 over the Northway in the Town of Colonie.  The Region 1 office, through the efforts of project manager Dan Moore and many others, demonstrated what is possible through creativity and a cooperative spirit.  NYSDOT deserves a lot of credit for introducing the innovative SPUI design to the Capital District.  Not only does the finished product improve the safety and physical condition of the bridge, it provides a dramatic improvement to traffic flow, improves walkability, and creates a sense of place for continued economic vitality in the corridor.  The stakeholder involvement and innovative treatment by Region 1 to achieve broader regional and community objectives were remarkable.

 

Mayor MacDonald presented the award to NYSDOT Region 1 staff, with Mike McCarthy, Engineer-in-Charge, Dave Richards, Construction Supervisor, John Grady, Regional Construction Engineer, along with Mary Ivey, Regional Director, accepting the award on behalf of NYSDOT.

 

PRESENTATION BY PARKS & TRAILS NEW YORK: LIVINGSTON AVENUE RAILROAD BRIDGE: A Historical Perspective

 

David Jukins introduced Martin Daley of Parks & Trails NY to give a presentation on the historical and community context of the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge.  Martin recounted that this bridge project presents an exciting opportunity to reestablish this bridge as a tremendous asset to the region as it once was in providing for pedestrian and bicycle travel on the bridge which connects Van Rensselaer Island with Albany.  This swing bridge was originally built in 1866 at a cost of $750,000 and served all train traffic from Boston to points west. It subsequently became a freight train only bridge and was reconstructed in 1902 to include a cantilever walkway.  This walkway became run down and was closed to pedestrians in the 1990’s.  The only remaining bridge across the Hudson River with pedestrian access between Troy and Catskill is the Dunn Memorial Bridge where the walkway has a 10% grade and is considered an unpleasant facility to use to get from Albany to Rensselaer on foot or bike.     

 

Martin listed the various plans, from regional, county and local study sponsors, that mention the benefits and desire of restoring the Livingston Avenue Bridge pedestrian/ bicycle pathway. In particular, the Hudson River Crossings Study determined the Livingston Avenue Bridge is the best place to provide cross-river bicycle and pedestrian access.  The Rensselaer County Trail Study noted that having a crossing accessible from HVCC would provide a commuting and recreational resource for over 10,000 students.

 

Martin noted Amtrak will be taking over responsibilities for the bridge in 2012 as it is a key piece of the planned High Speed Rail network. In New York State there are numerous non-rail movable bridges with bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and many of these are swing bridges.  There are also hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in close proximity to active rail lines (i.e. the Zim Smith Trail in Saratoga County). 

 

Martin concluded by saying that the Livingston Avenue Bridge coalition is growing and numerous groups are asking that the walkway be restored when the bridge is rebuilt. It could be a critical component in waterfront revitalization efforts in Albany and Rensselaer.  Mayor MacDonald thanked Martin for his presentation.  Mike Stammel also thanked Martin and relayed that as a youth growing up in Rensselaer he often used the bridge’s walkway for transportation and supports restoring it, saying that it is a great idea.

 

PRESENTATION ON CDTC’S BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM

 

Jason Purvis presented information on a Continuum of Training in Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety for Law Enforcement, Outline of Components, November 2011.  The goal of Capital District Transportation Committee/Capital Coexist is to provide law enforcement agencies in the CDTC region training in enforcement for safe bicycling and walking. Enforcement is a critical element of any successful bicycle and pedestrian program. Law enforcement officers are the only members of the community who can enforce laws to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, so they must be at the forefront of this effort and lead by example. However, most law enforcement officers have never received any bicycle or pedestrian specific training. WE BIKE, etc. proposes to provide law enforcement officers in the CDTC communities with essential pedestrian and bicycle safety educational materials and training through a planned succession of information, starting in January 2012 with basic information to more in-depth training planned for April/May 2012. Peter Flucke of WE BIKE has conducted this training in Wisconsin and New Orleans where it has proven successful.  This approach will start with letters of introduction and work up to sharing of DVD’s and a two day training session.  NY State Police have expressed strong interest as have other police agencies.  This training effort is focused on uniformed police officers only as that is most effective. CDTC staff is currently reaching out for the appropriate police agency contacts; the Glens Falls MPO and their police agencies may also participate.  This training will be tailored to NYS traffic laws and our regional context.  Jason indicated he will be reaching out to Policy Board members for appropriate police agency contact information and asked members to let him know if there is someone they particularly would like contacted. Rosemary Nichols pointed out that communities with police bicycle patrols would be logical participants but agreed others should be asked as well.

 

2010-15 TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM

 

A.    NYSDOT Capital Program Update: Region 1 Report

 

David Jukins explained the 2010-15 TIP was developed based on assumptions that the federal transportation program would grow; this obviously did not occur.  Dave went on to say Region 1 staff has been working hard on reconciling issues for the program update and will be making a presentation to the Commissioner.  Frank Bonafide, NYSDOT Region 1 staff, gave a preview stating these issues have been discussed in previous meetings here at the CDTC table and the primary principles of the update focus on system preservation.  Frank recounted that three years ago there was optimism about the federal program but recent events indicate funding may stay at current levels with little hope for increases; it is likely we will have to dial back as the current programming level is not sustainable relative to anticipated funding. However, since we’ve collectively been conservative, the CDTC TIP probably won’t be too bad off.  One major issue is the Patroon Island Bridge; with a lower capital spending target this bridge project can’t be funded as expected.  This will be discussed at Region 1’s Capital Program Update presentation at the main office.

 

Dave concluded with a reminder that this will be discussed at the next Planning Committee meeting, along with the approach that will be needed for the next TIP update to start next summer.

 

Frank also reported Region 1 and CDTC staff met with all sponsors who currently have projects on the TIP; Region 1 then went back and balanced the program based on project status and funding targets.  One problem is the current TIP/STIP does not reflect new funding targets; this will be addressed in the next TIP update. The concern is if the TIP/STIP isn’t aligned with the new funding targets, FHWA won’t release funding for projects.

 

A question was asked about the condition of the Patroon Island Bridge; NYSDOT is addressing any current issues with maintenance.  Mary Ivey indicated the outcome of the Region 1 Program Update presentation will be shared with CDTC. A statewide MPO/regional meeting will be held at the main office on December 13th.

 

B.     CDTC Consideration of Adjusting Programming to Match New

 Budget Estimates

 

In terms of CDTC’s TIP, David Jukins indicated staff is working to sort things out and hopefully will have more information on funding prior to January’s Planning Committee meeting.  It is anticipated few adjustments to CDTC’s TIP will be needed, but they are expected to be minor given that the program is well-managed here in Region 1.

 

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM AMENDMENTS

 

There were three transit amendments presented including:

 

A.    Transit Bus Replacement/Expansion

B.    NY 5 Bus Rapid Transit Stations

C.    Washington Avenue/Western Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Alternatives Analysis

 

Carm Basile relayed that CDTA was very pleased to be win several competitive FTA grants.  $10 million in grant money has been secured which needs to be reflected on the TIP.   $4 million will be used to purchase 12 new buses.  The $5 million for Bus Plus will effectively close out that project and fund the remaining stations, and real time information displays, etc. The third grant will enable completion of an Alternatives Analysis for the planned Washington/Western BRT.  Carm also stated that CDTA’s daily ridership is the highest in 30 years, with a few days at 60,000 daily boardings; core ridership has increase this year by 12% to 14%. The recent Albany County Route Restructuring effort has resulted in compliments outnumbering complaints and initial ridership numbers show an increase on new routes. However, CDTA is currently having to dip into its reserves to operate and there will be tough decisions ahead as they must do less with less but they will do so strategically to reduce the impact.  Members approved the three TIP amendments.

 

D.    I-87 1 R, Mohawk River to Exit 12

 

Frank Bonafide informed the group that this project on the Northway was SDF (State Dedicated Fund) funded and NYSDOT would now like to use IM (Interstate Maintenance) funding, as there is extra IM funding, while SDF funds are limited. Members approved this TIP amendment.

 

REPORT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW TRANSPORTATION BILL: U.S. Senate’s Proposed MAP-21 Legislation

 

Dave Jukins described the Senate EPW (Environmental and Public Works) Committee proposal called MAP-21 which recently received bi-partisan approval with a 18 0 committee vote to advance it to the next step. This proposal keeps funding at roughly current levels over the next two years with a focus on the National Highway System (NHS) and a consolidation of programs, and bridge preservation and safety. The CMAQ Program would see changes, and the Transportation Enhancement Program would be eliminated with funding moved to the CMAQ program.  The bill also contains a number of performance-driven criteria with which States and MPOs must comply.  The bill includes an increased emphasis on freight.

 

STATUS OF PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES

 

CDRPC

 

Mike Stammel reported that CDRPC will continue to do what it does best but there is great concern over the recent Saratoga County budget passage that defunded CDRPC for that county’s share. If that reduction remains it would be devastating to CDRPC.

 

NYS Thruway Authority

 

Mike Loftus reported that the reconstruction project is moving along well and will continue through the winter.  Noise walls are going up.

 

NYSDOT

 

Mary Ivey reported that staff has been very involved with the Capital Program Update.  The good news is that the new Champlain Bridge has been opened which has been received very positively.  A lot of people are driving and bicycling on it. Hurricane/storm damage repair should be complete by the end of December.

 

Albany Airport Authority

 

Steve Iachetta reported enplanements are up over last year. The Airport received a small communities air service enhancement grant for $ 1.5 million matched. Recent safety and capacity projects at the Airport total $3 million.

 

Albany Port Authority

 

Terry Hurley reported the Dock and Wharf project is almost complete.  Terry thanked Region 1 staff for their hard work and assistance on the project; Mary reciprocated the compliment for Port staff.

 

CDTC

 

Deb Stacey reported on Clean Cities, which is a DOE (Department of Energy) funded program that she has been coordinating for 9 years.  A formal re-designation session will be held at CDTC on December 15th with participants including the Airport, CDTA, National Grid, the Hoosic Valley Central School district and others.  The Clean Cities program has resulted in a lot of success in terms of projects funded and partnerships, particularly on the alternative fueled vehicle front, among others.

 

Rosemary Nichols, representing the Mayor of Watervliet, asked at his request if Policy Board members could opt out of receiving paper copies of meeting materials, receiving digital copies via email instead.  Mayor MacDonald said this would be explored with CDTC staff.

 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:20 pm.  The next meeting is scheduled for 3:00 pm, Thursday March 1, 2012. Mayor MacDonald wished everyone Happy Holidays.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

Mary E. Ivey

Secretary