Senator Skelos Appointed To Bipartisan High Speed Rail Task Force

Dean G. Skelos

June 29, 2005

New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was appointed to a new State Senate Task Force on High Speed Rail created by Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-Brunswick). Thispanelwill study the best way to link New York’s cities with high-speed trains, dramatically reducing travel time, stimulating new employment and firmly reestablishing New York’s place as a national transportation innovator and technology leader.

"A viable, statewide high-speed rail network is critically-important to New York’s economic future," said Senator Skelos, the Senate's representative on the MTA’s Capital Program Review Board. "As it relates to both commerce and our quality-of-life, high-speed rail promises to promote job creation and economic growth and make New York State an even more attractive environment in which to do business."

"This Task Force, comprised of transportation experts within the Senate and relying on advice and input from experienced professionals from across the transportation industry, will work to develop the faster, more reliable and affordable transportation technology that is in use in other countries," said Senator Bruno. "With Amtrak’s uncertain situation and the fierce competition within the global economy, it is critical that we develop an adequate high speed rail system that can effectively move people and products between cities in New York State and the nation’s economic centers in order to grow businesses and create jobs and opportunities."

In addition to Senator Skelos, the bipartisan Task Force will be chaired by Senator Bruno and includeother Senate members withextensive transportation experience--SenatorsThomas Libous (R, Binghamton), Caesar Trunzo (R, Brentwood), Owen Johnson (R, Babylon), Frank Padavan (R, Bellerose), Michael Nozzolio (R, Fayette), Charles Fuschillo (R, Merrick), John Flanagan (R, East Northport), Joseph Robach (R, Greece),James L. Seward(R, Oneonta), William Larkin (R, Cornwall-on-Hudson), Nicholas Spano (R, Westchester) and Senator John D. Sabini (D, Queens).

The Task Force will initially rely on a feasibility study headed by John Egan. John Egan served for over 40 years in State Government, including as Commissioner of the Office of General Services, Executive Director of the Dormitory Authority and Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. Following that, as Chief Executive Officer of the Albany International Airport, he oversaw construction of a new terminal, parking garage, air traffic control tower, cargo facility and New York State Police Executive Hangar. He is presently the President of Renaissance Corporation of Albany, a philanthropic organization, and he will oversee the completion of the 21-acre University Heights project that will combine the resources of Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany Law School, Albany Medical College and the Sage Colleges.

"John Egan has proved his ability to get visionary infrastructure projects done, and I am confident that his experience and commitment will provide a steady, guiding hand to our efforts to bring critical high speed rail improvements to New York," said Senator Bruno.

"I look forward to this very challenging assignment Senator Bruno has outlined. It truly is a very worthwhile effort especially regarding the impact a viable rail system has on our region, indeed the entire state economy," said John Egan. "Because of its vital nature, we have set an aggressive timetable for completion, and with the outstanding team that the Senator has assembled WE WILL succeed by working collaboratively with all those involved."

John Egan will oversee a staff of three, including a project director, a consultant and a project assistant, with offices to be located in the Rensselaer Train Station. The team will: produce a study on the feasibility of a high speed rail system, ultimately linking Buffalo-Albany-New York City and Montreal-Albany-New York City; estimate its total cost and marketability; and begin planning, so that high speed rail recommendations could be part of next year’s State Budget.

"The Department of Transportation stands ready to assist the Senate Task Force on High Speed Rail as it begins its important mission, and will continue to work to ensure we have fast, convenient, and dependable passenger rail service throughout New York State," said John F. Guinan, director of Customer and Stakeholder Relations for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).

The Task Force and feasibility study team will receive input from an advisory board which will be created to represent the groups and interests impacted by the high speed rail project, including: local, regional and state transportation organizations and experts, government officials, economic development interests, passenger advocates, railroad industry representatives, academics and others.

The study, comments and recommendations will be completed and submitted to the Task Force by the end of the year.