Study, Rail Woes Put Focus on State Transportation Funding
Following a CNBC report that ranked Connecticut as having the second worst transportation infrastructure in the U.S., a new study claims Connecticut is home to three of the nation’s top 20 urban areas with the highest percentage of major roads in poor condition.
Bridgeport-Stamford, New Haven and Hartford were the urban centers identified in the study by TRIP, a national transportation research group. TRIP studied the approximately 460,000 miles of arterial roadways that annually carry 73% of the nation’s vehicle travel.
Safe roads, highways, and bridges are critical to the movement of people and products. Historically, federal dollars have been the major source of funding for the repair and expansion of these systems.
However, nationwide federal funding for such projects is expected to be cut by $603 million in 2014 unless Congress provides additional resources. Also historically, Connecticut has diverted state revenues collected and deposited into the Special Transportation Fund for purposes other than transportation projects.
The TRIP study highlighting the state’s share of roads in bad conditions was released just a week after a power failure in New York crippled commuter train service between New Haven and New York City. Nearly 125,000 daily users of the important rail line were forced to find an alternative route, often via the already congested I-95.
Although many transportation advocates in the state have touted increased bus and rail investment as the cure-all to the state’s transportation woes in the I-95, I-91 and I-84 corridors, the recent power outage shows that a long term, prioritized plan that includes repairing and expanding highway capacity is necessary to make sure we have a balanced, multi-model transportation system.
Speaking recently to CBIA’s Board of Directors, Governor Malloy recognized the challenges the state will face in the future in funding the necessary improvements to the state’s infrastructure. He highlighted changes he has implemented in the state Department of Transportation to encourage more efficient project delivery. And the governor shared his belief that strategic transportation investments made by the state will help encourage job growth and economic activity.
Overcoming the state’s transportation issues will not happen overnight. The first steps involve the development of a strategic, balanced, long-term transportation strategy. It will require culture and process changes at the state Department of Transportation – a step the governor is already in the process of implementing. Finally, before other sources of revenue can even be considered, it will require elected officials to preserve the revenue in the Special Transportation Fund and making sure it is used solely for transportation projects.
Employees and employers alike depend on a reliable transportation system for their livelihood. We must make the necessary changes to make sure that unsafe, congested roads and bridges do not impede opportunities.
CBIA has been surveying its members to determine the transportation issues that they are most concerned about, and possible solutions. In December, there will be a transportation summit in Stamford to discuss the results of the survey and what actions state policymakers should take.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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