An accident on I-91 South in Hartford this week halted traffic on virtually every highway in the capital area and even clogged city streets already narrowed by snow banks.
It was just the latest in what seems to be an unending list of major transportation events—problems on the rails of Metro North, backups on I-95 in Fairfield County, bottlenecks in New Haven and the capital city, and beyond—causing commuters, businesses and just about everything to come to a halt in Connecticut.
Transportation is such an important issue to the state, directly impacting our economic vitality and desperately calling for big-picture solutions.
How to fix transportation has been a major topic in the state for many years, but it looks like this year it will be a priority finally tackled.
Legislative Republicans this week offered a plan addressing how to fund Connecticut’s long-term transportation needs.
It’s a first step that offers a way to fund transportation within current bonding levels and with a “predictable and reliable revenue stream” that doesn’t include tax increases or tolls and allows experts at the state Transportation Department to determine which projects should be prioritized.
Key components of the plan include:
- Reserving a set amount of general obligation bonds to be used solely for transportation priorities
- Preserving current special tax obligation bonds dedicated to transportation
- Filling all vacant positions at DOT to ensure the agency can efficiently carry out the state's needed transportation projects
- Re-establishing the Transportation Strategy Board to work with DOT to assess proposed projects and identify priorities.
Transportation also is expected to be a large part of the Governor’s budget address to the General Assembly on Wednesday.
The business community is encouraged that transportation is on the front burner this year.
Employers—who depend on being able to transport goods and services, and rely on employees and customers being able to reach them—will be looking for state policymakers to consider a wide variety of ideas and solutions.