Details about Gov. Malloy’s plan to “transform” transportation in Connecticut have been emerging at media briefings this month.
In his State of the State address, the governor called for the transportation transformation and directly linked infrastructure improvements to improving Connecticut’s economic health.
Improving the state’s infrastructures is a key issue for Connecticut businesses.
In a 2013 survey of Connecticut businesses, the No. 1 transportation concern of businesses was road congestion, with 88% of survey respondents wanting to see additional operational lanes added to I-95.
And 64% of CBIA members responding to the 2014 Survey of Connecticut Businesses said that better transportation options would increase their ability to attract and maintain a high quality workforce.
Unfortunately, the state has ranked poorly on transportation in such national economic studies as CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business.
CBIA and the CT20x17 campaign have both called for identifying and accelerate priority investments in roads, bridges, transit systems, and air and seaports—and protecting the Special Transportation Fund.
Stop the diversion
Included in the governor’s plans is a proposal for a constitutional amendment to prevent the diversion of money from the state’s Special Transportation Fund in order to cover General Fund expenditures.
CBIA supports a constitutional amendment to create a lockbox that would restrict use of the Special Transportation Fund to transportation purposes.
The governor also has called for improving and expanding existing rail and highway systems as key components of his plan—several aspects of which are already in motion.
Projects in motion
The state Bond Commission recently approved bonding for a repaving program this year, as well as money for new train stations in Enfield, West Hartford, Newington, North Haven, Orange and Bridgeport.
Several of these stations will be part of the revitalized New Haven-to-Hartford to-Springfield line that will run along the 62 miles I-91 corridor and is projected to be served by 22 trains per day.
Gov. Malloy also expressed an interest in widening I-95 from New York to Rhode Island.
As the governor's proposals continue to take shape, the elephant in the room is the cost of such projects.
Despite the overwhelming desire for transportation improvements, Connecticut businesses are wary of being burdened by any additional taxes or fees, including tolls, until lawmakers can demonstrate some fiscal restraint with the Special Transportation Fund.
Just as an improved transportation system will better connect state residents, Connecticut businesses hope lawmakers will come together and find a reasonable, forward-thinking approach to improving the state's transportation infrastructure.