The City Council and transportation advocates want an additional $294.9 million to fund Vision Zero-related projects in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget, but the administration has yet to hand over the cash.
“Without significantly expanding the number of projects the Department is doing, our collective goal to achieve Vision Zero will be much tougher,” Councilman and Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said at a budget hearing Tuesday.
Vision Zero, one of the mayor’s flagship initiatives, aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024. Advocates doubt that will be able to happen without more money committed to traffic safety.
“de Blasio’s mayoralty can be determined by Vision Zero and we want him to take it more seriously than he does now,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “There are hundreds of intersections that the Department of Transportation has identified as dangerous but can’t address because they don’t have the capacity to do so.”
In total, the Council has requested an additional $2.5 million for Vision Zero public awareness campaigns; $52.4 million for Street Improvement Projects; and $240 million for capital street reconstruction.
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said it would take about seven years to transform the city’s 292 dangerous intersections that her department has outlined in borough safety reports.
Part of that is because of capital funding, but also, she said, the outreach and planning around projects takes time.
“It’s partially a funding issue but it’s partially a delivery and staffing issue,” she said. “On the street improvement side, the dollar amounts are very low when you look at the materials—be it paint, be it concrete or be it bollards . . . . But these projects are low dollar and labor intensive.”
The mayor’s office said it is committed to provide the DOT with the funding it needs to continue reducing traffic fatalities, down 21.5 percent since Vision Zero started in 2014. That price tag currently sits at $1.2 billion for the next fiscal year.
“This budget’s $1.2 billion investment in safety-related dollars is unprecedented,” said Austin Finan, a spokesman for the mayor, in a statement.
“As part of it, DOT has more and more ambitious street improvement projects than ever before, including more than 15 miles of protected bike lanes (including the next phase of Queens Boulevard), hundreds of leading pedestrian intervals that give pedestrians a head-start when crossing the street, and implementing and testing new left-turn designs.”