State advances 'complete streets' concept

Dec. 28—Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday signed a legislative package of laws that will increase Department of Transportation support for municipal "complete streets" projects, and require regional transportation boards have voting seats for transit-dependent individuals.

"Whether you're on the sidewalk, in the bike lane or riding the bus, you deserve a high-quality trip that gets you safely to your destination," Hochul said in a media release. "Transportation is all about connections: bringing people closer to their jobs, their homes, and the people they love. I'm proud to sign two new laws that will make our streets safer and our communities more connected."

According to the release, the legislation provides increased funding for "Complete Streets" projects, which "incorporate a holistic approach to street design." A Complete Street, the release said, "is a roadway planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of roadway users of all ages and abilities," including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and motorists; it includes children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The bill increases the state share of funding for municipalities incorporating Complete Street features. Under the new legislation, the state's contribution to the non-federally funded portion of Complete Street projects will increase to 87.5 percent, acording to the release.

The other new law will require the non-voting transit dependent representative be moved into a voting position on various transportation authorities' boards. "Upstate and Western New York regional transit authorities provide critical services to tens of millions of riders every year," the release said. "These services include bikeshares, buses, and paratransit, and annually cover hundreds of thousands of miles in service. This new legislation provides a critical voice to riders who permanently rely on these services, and will improve governance within these authorities."