One of the pillars of Gov. Malloy’s budget proposal this week was his call for a five-year, $10 billion investment to begin a comprehensive improvement of transportation in Connecticut.
He cast a 30-year vision for upgrading highways, rails, bus service, and roads and bridges in nearly every part of the state.
The governor said he wants changes to be transformative and not “constrained to address only the most critical safety issues and infrastructure performance priorities.”
His plan is a five-year ramp-up period that includes design and engineering, and comes with a considerable cost that ostensibly would be covered by $3.8 billion in already anticipated state funding, $2.8 billion in new state funding, and $3.4 billion in federal funding.
In the early years of the plan, priority is given to rail projects–particularly in upgrading Metro-North, Shore Line East and a new commuter route to Hartford.
Some of the other projects in the proposal:
- Straightening and reconfiguring I-84 in West Hartford and widening it in Danbury
- Widening I-95 from Old Saybrook to Groton and from Stamford to Bridgeport
- Improving the infamous “Mixmaster” at the intersection of I-84 and Route 8 in Waterbury
- Fixing the accident-prone I-91 interchange at the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford
- Expediting funding for bridge repairs
- Addressing issues with Connecticut’s airports and deep water ports
The plan is ambitious and, if implemented, would help alleviate many of the congestion issues faced by Connecticut commuters and businesses.
Improving connectivity is key to strengthening Connecticut’s economy and CBIA’s 2015 Government Affairs Agenda calls for accelerating efforts to upgrade state roads, highways, rails, and bridges.
However, the multibillion-dollar question is how would this transportation transformation be funded, and whether the state Department of Transportation has the capacity to handle so many projects in such a short time.
The Governor said the final step in his plan would be to form a nonpartisan commission comprised of experts in transportation, finance, and economic development to determine the most cost-effective way of funding out transportation needs beyond the five-year ramp-up period.
This commission will be charged with the task of offering recommendations for a sustainable funding source for funding transportation projects over the next 30 years.