Adding a lane in each direction on I-95 in southern Connecticut and on I-84 between Danbury and Waterbury could boost the state's economy by billions of dollars, says a new report from the state's Department of Transportation.
Both projects are critically important to Gov. Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion dollar plan to make Connecticut's transportation infrastructure “best in class”—and both would be a welcome sight to many Connecticut businesses.
A 2013 survey found that the No. 1 transportation-related concern for Connecticut businesses was road congestion. More than half of businesses said the transportation project with the greatest benefit to Connecticut would be highway improvement and expansion.
The DOT's report seemed to echo these findings in terms of real dollars.
The report claimed the expansion of I-95, one of the most congested corridors in the United States, would produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, at $9 billion to the state's gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers.
DOT also projects the I-84 expansion would add $4.4 billion in new business sales, add $2.6 billion to the gross state product, and add $1.8 billion in new wage income to workers.
Businesses would not be the only beneficiaries of these projects. Drivers would be saved 18.7 million hours of delay by the year 2040, claims DOT.
Of course the elephant in the room is still the cost of these projects (estimated at more than $12 billion dollars), along with the rest of the Governor's massive transportation plan.
Lawmakers increased the state's sale tax during the 2015 legislative session in order to provide a dedicated source of funding to ramp up the planning stages of the Governor's transportation plan.
The governor also created a transportation financing panel to identify the best source of revenue for the balance of the $100 billion dollar plan.
As policymakers prepare for budget talks with the governor to patch the most recent deficit, Gov. Malloy says funding for his transportation vision is off limits.
Yet many lawmakers believe the transportation project should be on the negotiating table.
By the end of the 2016 legislative session, Connecticut businesses should have a better understanding of whether the governor's transportation plan gets the green light as planned, whether it will be pared down, and how we will pay for it.