Gov. Dannel Malloy this week indefinitely postponed $4.3 billion in transportation projects, calling for the General Assembly to fix the state's troubled Special Transportation Fund.

Malloy's decision follows the release last month of a report showing the fund faces insolvency by 2020.

Mixmaster interchange one of many postponed transportation projects
Postponed: Plans to overhaul the Route 8/I-84 "Mixmaster" interchange in Waterbury.

The governor and Department of Transportation commissioner James Redeker Jan 10. released a 10-page list featuring hundreds of suspended projects.

They range from small maintenance updates to massive, multi-million dollar projects including widening I-84 in Danbury, replacing the I-84 viaduct in Hartford, widening I-95 from Bridgeport to Stamford, and overhauling the Route 8/I-84 "Mixmaster" interchange in Waterbury.

"If Connecticut does not take the necessary action to allow us to restart these vital projects, not only will it put the state's infrastructure into a further state of disrepair, it will hurt our economy," Malloy said.

"This is preventable, but it requires immediate action. The legislature must act this year to avoid potentially devastating setbacks to our transportation system."

Transit Fare Hikes, Service Cuts

Redeker said eight state projects worth over $26 million were suspended in November, while another four rail and highway projects, costing $277 million, will be postponed in April if no funding is approved.

An additional 16 projects—worth over $395.5 million—face postponement in June.

And the DOT has proposed a 10% increase in Metro North fares, a 25-cent hike in bus fares, and additional rail service cutbacks.

"There's no better way to capture the attention of legislators than holding back local grants or halting DOT projects, and now the governor has done both," said CBIA senior vice president for public policy Brian Flaherty.

"Connecticut's businesses—who rely on our transportation system to move people and product every day—are watching too."

Governor's Recommendations

Malloy said he will provide state lawmakers with detailed recommendations for restoring transportation funding prior to the Feb. 7 start of the 2018 General Assembly session.

According to a Connecticut Mirror report, the governor would not reveal whether those recommendations would include tolls, gasoline tax hikes, or other revenue-raising measures.

State Rep. Tony Guerrera (D-Rocky Hill), co-chair of the legislature's Transportation Committee, agreed something must be done.

Perennial legislative raids on the Special Transportation Fund are among the factors that led to the current crisis.
"We must act immediately in the 2018 legislative session and institute tolls or another revenue stream to avert the oncoming crisis," he said.

CBIA and its members have long called for lawmakers to address the transportation issues that impede Connecticut's economic growth.

In its 2018 Government Affairs Agenda, CBIA once again urged lawmakers to expand state highways and mass transit to reduce congestion—issues addressed by many of the postponed projects.

And the new state Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth views restoring the depleted transportation fund as a priority.

Insolvency Issues

The state's special transportation fund currently has a balance of about $141 million and is projected to be in deficit by $388 million by fiscal 2022.

Connecticut relied for years on the gas tax to fill the transportation fund, but a fall in oil prices, coupled with more fuel efficient vehicles and perennial legislative raids on the fund has led to the current crisis.

In 2017, lawmakers moved $37.5 million from the fund.

That resulted in hikes in bus and rail fares, reduced highway maintenance, and DOT personnel cuts.

State lawmakers last year approved a statewide referendum on a constitutional lockbox to protect transportation funds. It goes to voters this November.


For more information, contact CBIA's John Blair (860.280.4059).