Transportation Agenda Emerging
While everyone awaits the budget address of Governor Dannel P. Malloy, several transportation themes of interest to the business community are emerging from the state legislature.
Among them is a strong focus on increased state funding for transportation projects. There is a growing recognition that the state can no longer so heavily rely on federal funding to meet all of the state’s challenges in this area.
Perhaps the proposals drawing the most attention are those calling for electronic tolls on major highways at the state’s borders. Many legislators feel this is the preferred way to generate the billions of dollars that will be needed just maintain our current infrastructure in a “state of good repair.”
Billions more, however, will be needed to upgrade and expand various transportation modes, including rail, bus service, roads and upgrading major ports.
Completion of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014 will revolutionize freight shipping along the eastern United States. Many feel Connecticut has an enormous opportunity to grow its economy and jobs if it moves aggressively to upgrade its ports. One proposal would create a new port authority to spearhead these efforts.
What’s difficult with transportation projects is that all are extremely expensive and budgets are tight. If and when budget dollars are allocated, the state needs to make sure they are put into dedicated transportation funds for high-priority transportation projects. Several proposals seek to address this issue and the Governor has said he would consider proposing a Constitutional amendment, if necessary, to ensure its result.
The legislature’s focus will narrow further following the Governor’s address, but it appears clear that planning for a sustainable revenue stream to support long-term investment of state dollars in transportation will be on the agenda.
The Transportation Committee is holding a hearing on several proposals concerning tolls and funding, on Friday, Feb. 18. For more information, contact Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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