Reaction to the much-awaited bipartisan legislation was mixed.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), the senior Northeastern member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the final package "is a combination of hard fought victories and losses."
The biggest victory, according to Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), is that the bill guarantees state transportation departments a funding stream for two years after a string of three- and six-month funding extensions. "It provides certainty for states and municipalities to invest in more infrastructure projects over longer periods of time that will help create jobs," he said.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said the legislation meant $3.3 billion a year for highway and mass transit in New York and increased states' and municipalities' capacity to secure low-interest financing for large infrastructure projects, such as building the Tappan Zee Bridge's replacement.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the bill will more than double highway safety improvement program funds for the state and urged the NYSDOT to target improvements on the LIE and Hempstead Turnpike. "I have told New York State my two highest priorities are both on Long Island," he said.
McDonald said work was under way on both. "As we receive the funding through the legislation, it will go to those corridors with the highest need, which clearly includes those two."
King, who threatened to vote against the legislation if that provision was included, said he was "angry and disappointed" the bill did not restore to $240 a month the transit commuter benefit for riders of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. The benefit fell to $125 a month in January while pretax parking benefits for those who drive into the city remain at the higher rate.
"That's an inexcusable bias against the Northeast. . . . In my district, every community is filled with commuters. It's a disincentive for mass transit and Republicans voted the other way in December 2010," he said.
The LIRR Commuter Council echoed his disappointment.
So did Steven Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, who said: "If you look at the cost of a monthly pass between the city and anywhere on Long Island, it's far more than $125 a month."
Another measure requires the U.S. transportation department to develop standards for seat belts, strengthening roofs and implementing anti-ejection technology within two years.