Governor Malloy (CT): Transportation Overhaul Ahead Of Expectations

Hartford Courant, 4 January 2016
Don Stacom

HARTFORD — With a contentious legislative session barely a month away, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday told reporters that he won’t back away from his $100 billion plan to transform the state’s transportation network.

“It is critical to the future of this state that we address these issues that we’ve ignored too long,” Malloy said at a press conference at Union Station.

Supported by a crowd of transit advocates and construction union leaders, Malloy said he believes Connecticut residents are willing to pay for better highways, rail lines and bus systems. But they have to be absolutely confident that money designated for transportation doesn’t get diverted, he said.

“As we build trust with the people of Connecticut and as they understand that any dollars raised for transportation will only be spent for transportation, they’ll rise to the occasion,” he said.

Some lawmakers have said there will be little appetite for new revenue ideas when the General Assembly convenes in February. A series of deficit warnings in 2015 and recent budget rescissions have made a tough climate for new spending initiatives, they say, and the November election will add to the anti-tax pressure.

Malloy renewed his pledge to seek an amendment to the state constitution to protect transportation monies from being commandeered by future governors or lawmakers to fill holes in the general fund. He also made clear that he doesn’t want to scale back his 30-year “Let’s Go CT!” proposal.

Its supporters “understand the connection between building a modern first-in-class transportation system and our state’s long-term economic growth,” he said. “If we fail to make the investments, which we did over the last 40 years, we shouldn’t be surprised that our economy does not respond as rapidly to recoveries as fast as other states.

“If we build that transportation system, we should be leading,” he said.

His administration has spent the last year campaigning to build public and legislative support for a massive overhaul of the state’s highways, bridges and transit systems. Connecticut businesses and their employees lose massive amounts of time and money in traffic every year because infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate for decades, Malloy has said. Faster, safer and more reliable highways and transit operations would make the state more attractive to business, he has said.

Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said the DOT made major progress on highway and transit projects across the state last year.

It opened CTfastrak in March, and completed the last stages of the Moses Wheeler Bridge overhaul between Stratford and Milford last month. The DOT is working with Amtrak to prepare the New Haven to Springfield rail line for a new commuter service set to begin in two years, and recently installed a new, elevated platform at Union Station to accommodate Hartford Line trains when they start running.

Malloy said the I-84 widening in Waterbury is ahead of schedule, and that engineers are already planning replacement of the I-84 viaduct in Hartford and the I-84 and Route 8 interchange in Waterbury. Replacement of the century-old, four-track Walk Bridge carrying Metro-North over the Norwalk River is on schedule, he added.

“There has never been a year like 2015” for the DOT, Redeker said. “And 2016 holds even more than that to come.”


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