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Nicholas Tulach conducted independent research on the topic “The Tyranny of the Shovel: Exploring Changes in the Planning Process During Periods of Economic Crisis.” His academic advisor was Dr. Daniel Chatman of Rutgers and his professional advisor was Michael Flynn of NYCDOT. This research explored the lessons learned by local agencies from past financial crises in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The research addressed the following questions: What happens to decision making in periods of economic crises? Do these crises mark significant shifts in the local practice of planning? If so, in what ways?

Through a variety of primary and secondary sources reflecting New York City data, this research explored the themes of crisis, devolution, privatization, and public-private partnerships in terms of how they fluctuate under the effects of periodic economic crisis. Placing these crises in a political economic context allows an understanding of how privatization, public-private partnerships, and project prioritization are implemented as part of the transportation planning process, and how those changes connect to other scales of policy formulation such as the federal transportation reauthorization or the economic recovery plan.

Nicholas Tulach
Urban Planning