Governor Cuomo is expected to visit within the next week to hail the state’s $100 million grant for upgrades to Route 390. Local leaders heralded the news, saying it would bring thousands of jobs and help the University of Rochester expand.
As I pointed out, the jobs claim is ridiculous. The Center for Governmental Research could not quantify how many jobs would be created beyond construction in an April 2010 report. The U of R itself says it will create 771 direct and 1,000 spillover jobs over the next 20 years, according to the state environmental review of the project.
I’m also suspicious Cuomo announced something that was already going to happen. A public hearing had been previously scheduled for January 17. The project schedule called for construction in early 2013. Since it doesn’t appear the project is ready to immediately break ground, the schedule won’t be moved up a whole lot, if at all. Perhaps the $100 million is a guarantee it will happen?
Speaking of $100 million, the project website says the cost is under $70 million, although a chart details how the costs can escalate with inflation. (They still don’t reach $100 million.)
Despite these initial questions, there are good reasons to start construction that have nothing to do with new jobs.
The Department of Transportation’s formal name for the project is “Access 390” and the environmental review makes it clear why that’s appropriate. The report said there aren’t any problems with 390. Traffic flows nice and smooth. It’s the side roads.
Touting jobs and an exit for the U of R overshadows the biggest benefit: Relief for the more than 100,000 motorists who drive on Routes 15 and 15A where it crosses 390. They’re the ones who put up with traffic speeds of 16 m.p.h. at peak times and an accident rate six times the state average. They’re the ones who will benefit, jobs or no jobs.