In 1907, the Public Service Commission assumed responsibility for the economic and safety regulation of privately operated transportation; railroad and bus safety inspection; and, approval for the installation of protection for or elimination of at-grade rail highway crossings.
In 1908, the New York State Department of Highways was established by the Highway Act. It was headed by a three-member Highway Commission, appointed in 1909.
In 1911, the Highway Commission was abolished, and was succeeded by a State Superintendent of Highways.
In 1927, the Department of Public Works took over the duties of the State Engineer and Surveyor, unifying responsibility for highways, canals and public buildings,
In 1967, the New York State Department of Transportation was formed to deal with the state's complex transportation system, and absorbed among others the Department of Public Works.
The department comprises 11 regional offices and 68 county transportation maintenance residencies. Tioga County was moved to adjacent region in August 2007, Wayne County was moved from Region 3 to Region 4 in the late 1990s.