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New York

New York

The nine regional development organizations in the state (known locally as regional planning and development boards or regional planning councils) have no formal contracts or partnerships with the state to foster the participation of rural local officials in the statewide planning process. However, some regional development organizations have been active in transportation studies, projects, and service in multiple modes of transportation.  For example, regional planning and development boards in the state’s Southern Tier have provided valuable leadership in pursuing the designation and upgrading of key rural highway corridors to Interstate status.

One region in particular, the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board (STW), has played a vital leadership role in preventing the abandonment of a 145-mile rail stretch connecting six counties in New York and Pennsylvania. The group spearheaded the revitalization of this essential freight line by piecing together $24.9 million in new investments and creating the Southern Tier Extension Railroad Authority as a local public authority. The retention of the regional rail line helped to create 805 new jobs in this rural region in addition to generating an additional $4 million investment by three private shipping firms. Notably, the group has significantly increased the mileage of track and usage of the railway.

STW has also developed the region’s first-ever regional transportation strategy, which was adopted in 2009, with funding from the state.  The multimodal strategy documents needs related to the region’s community and economic development goals and the high priority projects—related to all modes of transportation—that would serve these goals.[1]  Although many of the priorities identified in the regional strategy are specific infrastructure projects, one process-oriented effort that has been underway following the completion of the regional transportation strategy is the development of a standardized road scoring process and criteria for local roads.  This effort is intended to help identify high priority corridors, which often include a combination of state, county, and local highways.[2]

New York has invested in mobility management programs across the state, which are often administered at the county level.  Regional-scale transportation needs identified in the Southern Tier West Regional Transportation Strategy revealed has led to a shared mobility management website for the three counties and Seneca Nation of Indians, which are all served by STW.  The regional website links to the locally developed coordinated plans and existing service in each jurisdiction.[3]

The regions in New York have a long history in the areas of regional aviation planning and technical assistance to local airports. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and New York State DOT have provided ongoing financial support for some of these efforts. Activities have included economic impact studies, business plans, land use analysis, operations and revenue analysis, GIS mapping, strategic plan development, development needs studies and opportunities. The aviation staff members also participate in state and regional aviation conferences and meetings to share experiences and gather information on new trends, federal development financing and other areas relevant to local airports across the state.  The Southern Tier East Regional Planning and Development Board, for example, convenes a quarterly meeting of the staff of airports within the region to address aviation-related issues, and in particular, how air service contributes to vibrant communities and resilient local economies.[4]

The Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council (G/FLRPC) has also been active in addressing transportation issues affecting the regional economy and residents.  In 2016, the council published the special study Transportation and Food Systems in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, completed with funding allocated through the Genesee Transportation Council, which is the Rochester area’s MPO.  This study used interviews with stakeholders involved in all facets of the food industry, from production and processing to product sales and waste management.  New York State is a major producer of agricultural products, much of it originating within the G/FLRPC region.[5]  The RPC has long been active in supporting transportation initiatives through its assistance to local governments on local land use and water resources planning, including in the development of local comprehensive plans and other resources.  Prior special studies addressed village main streets, model ordinances and other resources for planning for transportation and climate change, a historic transportation gateway inventory, regional rights of way, and more.[6]

[1] STW (2009),

[2] Personal communication with Richard Zink, March 2014

[3] STW, “Regional Transit,”

[4] Personal communication with Erik Miller, September 2014

[5] G/FLRPC (2016), Transportation and Food Systems in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region,

[6] G/FLRPC, “Publications and Completed Projects,”

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