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Consolidation commission begins study

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New York's bridges have many masters - and that might be an opportunity for consolidation.

The governor's Spending and Government Efficiency (or SAGE) commission met for the first time yesterday, taking a look at some of the agencies that might come under the axe in a consolidation scheme.  Cara Matthews at Gannett reports that the group is expected to have recommendations in mid-May:

A presentation made to the SAGE Commission Monday said the Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority and Bridge Authority are all responsible for keeping roads and bridges safe and reliable. "Solutions range from shared services for certain functions to a full functional consolidation," said Derek Utter, deputy director of agency redesign. Several state agencies have distinct but similar missions, including the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the DEC and Department of State, Utter said. The state Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance previously were overseen by one agency — the Department of Social Services, Utter said in his presentation. Five operating agencies and two oversight agencies are responsible for the state's health and disabilities system, he said.

Alternative energy vehicles

Two Albany-area congressmen are pushing for fuel cell forklifts to be part of the federal Alternative Vehicle Tax Credit program, reports Brian Nearing at the Times Union.  That would help manufacturer Plug Power, based in Latham, push more product.  Sound familiar? The Innovation Trail's Zack Seward has reported previously on the issue.

High speed rail

The editorial board at the Post-Standard lays out the issues around implementing high speed rail from Buffalo to Albany.  The conclusion: New York lawmakers should listen to freight rail firm CSX - they're making some good points:

The state reportedly is pressing CSX to allow passenger trains to go faster on the freight tracks. CSX now says they can go no faster than 90 mph due to safety reasons regarding the curvature and elevation of its tracks and the possibility of track damage — all valid concerns.

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