Skip to comments.How the candidates for governor would fix the traffic mess (Connecticut)
Posted on 10/17/2018 10:51:47 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
More than 300 bridges in Connecticut carrying 4.3 million vehicles daily are considered structurally deficient.
Highways in the Bridgeport-Stamford area are so congested motorists waste 49 hours a year in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
And 62 percent of Connecticuts major roads are in such poor condition they cost motorists $681 annually in vehicle repairs, according to TRIP, a national transportation think tank.
Given those challenges, the three men seeking to replace Gov. Dannel P. Malloy could be making transportation the centerpiece of their campaigns. But instead, these candidates for governor are offering mostly modest plans to fix the states infrastructure mess.
From an economic growth perspective, transportation is the number one issue, said Joseph McGee, vice president for policy at the Business Council of Fairfield County. The state has to invest in transportation infrastructure. The lack of investment is holding back economic growth. It cant take an hour to get to work. Companies will just leave, and we are seeing that.
Democrat Ned Lamonts transportation plan includes highway tolls on heavy cargo trucks, which he says will bring in an estimated $350 million annually and help pay for expanding airports, fostering economic development around train stations, faster Metro-North service and expanded bus connections.
Republican Bob Stefanowski opposes tolls and is pushing a plan that relies on unspecified budget cuts and savings, and reorganizing the states bonding priorities, to free up money for transportation projects.
Independent candidate Oz Griebel favors statewide tolling and would re-establish a transportation strategy board to choose projects supported by the private and public sectors.
No easy fix
Solving the states transportation needs is not an easy task, as Malloy found out.
And paying for it is even harder.
Perpetual budget deficits, reduced gas tax receipts and dwindling federal money has made funding big transportation improvements without a new revenue source such as tolls or a larger diversion of the state income tax more than challenging.
Malloy proposed a sweeping $100 billion, 30-year plan to ease congestion and improve the states aging transportation system.
The outgoing Democratic governor had some wins the more than 100 year old Walk rail bridge in Norwalk is being replaced, I-84 in Waterbury was reconfigured and a new rail line between Hartford and New Haven is exceeding expectations.
But much of his plan remains unrealized, including widening the most congested sections of Interstates 95 and 84.
McGee said offering long lists to solve the transportation problem sounds productive, but a governor must also push projects through the legislature.
You can come up with a $100 billion plan, but its getting things done that counts, McGee said.
James Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group and a Hearst Connecticut Media columnist, said he doesnt see much of a transportation plan from the three gubernatorial candidates.
Almost none of them is talking about transportation, Cameron said. How can we create jobs, stop people from moving out of state, encourage entrepreneurs or do anything to save our economy when we are in a literal and political gridlock?
Cameron added the candidates mostly pay lip-service to one of the most critical issues facing the state.
Toll or not
Stefanowksi, along with his Republican counterparts in the General Assembly, is firmly against highway tolls.
Connecticut taxpayers already have the second highest tax burden per capita in the nation, Stefanowski said in a prepared statement. The candidate declined requests to be interviewed by Hearst Connecticut Media.
Neds plan to put up tolls will only serve to increase that burden, forcing more families and businesses to leave our state, he said, adding the state can borrow money through bonds and avoid tolls or tax increases.
Lamont said Stefanowskis approach means little spending on transportation and predicted he would do considerable damage to Connecticuts economy.
Major projects simply will not happen, Lamont said in a prepared statement. He also declined to be interviewed.
Metro-North service will continue to deteriorate, Lamont said. His Trump-like tax experiment will all but guarantee ending state investments in transportation, ultimately driving businesses away.
Griebel said he would immediately begin a pilot toll program in the Hartford area on existing high vehicle occupancy lanes. That tolling could be spread across the state, he said.
The congestion is significant, Griebel said in an interview, adding toll revenue will help rebuild the states transportation system.
The region from New Haven down must be kept as a viable corridor, Griebel noted.
McGee said Stamford employers are increasingly seeing workers come from New Haven, Hartford and the towns and cities in between.
No one likes tolls, McGee conceded. But we are going to need more options. The lack of investment in infrastructure has hurt the states ability to grow. It was not addressed for the last eight years. There is no question we need another revenue source for transportation.
Lamont and Griebel both support a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would place a lockbox on transportation funds and prevent lawmakers from diverting those funds to other uses.
Stefanowski opposes the lockbox, saying its not an effective solution because lawmakers in the past diverted money from similar lockboxes
Much like Malloy, Lamont sees a link between highway gridlock, aging rail systems and economic growth.
Lamont wants faster rail service, private sector and public partnerships to lessen the cost of construction, increased bus connections, linking the new Hartford rail line to Bradley International Airport and increasing daily round trips between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Mass.
When it comes to revitalizing Connecticuts economy and fixing the states fiscal crisis, investing in 21st century infrastructure is critical, Lamont said.
Other than revenue from truck tolls, however, Lamont did not offer specific ways to pay for his transportation improvements.
Stefanowski sees overspending and taxes as the cause of the states fiscal and economic woes.
He said greater efficiency and savings, reduced overall spending, streamlining project approval times, partnering with financial institutions and the private sector and prioritizing will free up money for transportation work.
Weve seen the state continue bonding for projects that are not absolutely necessary, and which wont pay dividends through economic growth, even though the state is in dire financial straits, Stefanowski said.
We would immediately begin to develop a clear strategy to fund our priorities, such as school construction and transportation, and adhere strictly to that plan until our budget is in better shape, Stefanowski said.
That pitch mirrors the Republican caucus plan that pledges $1 billion annually over the next 30 years for transportation improvements without tax increases or tolls.
Malloy and the majority Democratic lawmakers have said the GOP plan offered by legislators cannot produce the revenue it claims.
Lamont said decades of underinvestment in transportation can no longer be ignored.
Were in a competition with the world for jobs, and right now, employers view our rail, roads and infrastructure as a fundamental impediment, Lamont said.
That means we have a simple choice: we can either move into the future with a modern transportation system that will attract companies and grow jobs, or we can go backward by disinvesting, he said.
One would impose heavy fines on you for not taking public transportation.
Another would provide generous tax credits for those who bicycle to work.
The last would simply tank the economy to the point where there’s no reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Vermont and Connecticut are the only states in the Northeast not to have tolls.... No tolls unless taxes are lowered 5.5% sales tax, 1% flat income tax then we can talk tolls.
If your a Democrat you tax it till it’s fixed!
Twenty or so years ago Connecticut was one of the least heavily taxed states in the country.Today it’s one of the most heavily taxed.
They are coming to the Carolinas in droves. I hope they are somewhat conservative.
One of the happiest days of my life was when I put Connecticut in my rear view as I moved to paradise in SC. Maggot Malloy stole his first election with a magic bag of votes found in Bridgeport, imposed a progressive agenda of high taxes and expanding government and proceeded to bankrupt the state in record time. I pity the fools who remain in that blue state hell hole.
Well, I have been away from CT for too long to know about the Republican candidate. Red Ned will always choose the wrong option. He’s like a Malloy with more brains. However, the Lt. Gov. candidate for the Republicans, Joe Markley, is sound on these issues. He is a pal of Tom Scott, whose claim to fame was getting RID of the Merritt Parkway tolls. I know Joe well enough that if I called him, he’d take my call and hear me out. A genuine nice guy, and Connecticut couldn’t do much better. Too bad he’s not on the top of the ticket.
This is amazing to me, the Magic Black President Barack Hussein Obama gave out almost a Trillion Dollars for the next job creation + to fix things like this. I can’t imagine where all of Connecticut’s $$$ went. Oh yes, into the coffers no doubt.
I know and I was at the anti tax rally in Hartford. I was campaigning for Tom Scott in 1994. That was when I was dissatisfied with Bush.
My husband and I live in CT, but Tuesday's election (Lamont winning with probably manufactured votes in Bridgeport) was the final nail in the coffin.
We bought land in GA last year, but still love other places we've seen, specifically on the SC coast. Where in SC are you?
We're looking for 'paradise' as well, and it sure as hell isn't in The Corrupt People's Republik of Connecticut!
I live just off Hilton Head Island, SC. Taxes are low, laws are gun friendly and retiree welcoming with great beaches, weather, food and golf. But the best thing about SC is the people. Southern manners and hospitality are real things.
I went back to Naugatuck Ct for my 50th high school reunion. The town looked like a war zone by in comparison.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.