Media Release

For Immediate Release:       

May 30 , 2007      

Contacts:

Jon Orcutt or Michelle Ernst
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(212) 268-7474
cell: (646) 729-6595

 

Analysis of Connecticut Transportation Spending Shows
Emphasis on Highway Expansion

  • 61% of bridge and highway funds slated for widening projects
  • Mass transit funding is also on the rise
An analysis of Connecticut’s 2007 to 2010 transportation plan reveals that the state will make highway expansion a priority in coming years. More than 60 percent of the $2.3 billion in projected highway and bridge spending is dedicated to widening and expansion projects. Massive projects such as the Q Bridge reconstruction, I-84 widening and US 7 expansion are expected to consume much of the state’s transportation budget.

At the same time, Connecticut devotes a relatively high share of spending to mass transit projects. Almost 37 percent of the state’s transportation capital budget is slated for mass transit projects. The influx of funds from the “Roadmap to Connecticut’s Economic Future,” a multi-billion dollar, 10-year transportation plan authored by Governor Rell and state legislative leaders has helped boost transit’s share of total funding by more than one-third over the 2000-2002 plan.

Reform: The Road Not Taken – A Review of Projected Transportation Spending in Connecticut, 2007-2010 is based on an exhaustive analysis of the 2007-2010 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), and comparison to the 2000-2002 STIP. The full report is available at the Campaign's website at www.tstc.org.

“ Connecticut’s spending on transit is good news for the state’s residents,” said Jon Orcutt, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “But it could do even better if it wasn’t pouring so many resources into highway expansion – other states have acknowledged the futility of trying to build their way out of roadway congestion.”

Connecticut’s plan to dedicate the majority of highway and bridge funding to expansion projects represents a stark reversal from just a few years ago. The 2000-2002 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program allocated more than 70 percent of highway and bridge dollars to maintenance, with only 20 percent slated for highway expansion.

The state’s emphasis on expansion does not bode well for the condition of Connecticut’s roads and bridges. Connecticut’s roads, already among the worst in the country, have not shown marked improvement in the last decade. The most recent federal data puts more than three-quarters of the state’s road miles in “less than good condition.” The federal government rates one-third of Connecticut’s bridges as deficient, after a steady ten-year decline.

Connecticut also lags behind the rest of the country in spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects. The state devotes only $0.94 per person to bicycle and pedestrian projects, compared to $1.34 nationally and $7.31 in Rhode Island.

Governor Rell’s recent call for “a more responsive, more responsible DOT and a DOT that will continue to broaden its focus beyond highways” is a step in the right direction. To propel ConnDOT into the 21 st Century, the report urges the following changes:

  • Fix it first — The state should review the cost-effectiveness of expanding highways to address roadway congestion, weigh the costs to government and the public of neglecting existing infrastructure and commit to exceeding national averages for state-wide road and bridge conditions. Downsizing or calling off road expansions that are destined to quickly re-fill with traffic could free up sizeable capital funding for more sustainable investments.
  • Develop more effective tools to manage congestion — Consider sustainable congestion relief measures, including efficient land use planning and roadway pricing. Evaluate whether conventional highway expansion serves any long-term public purpose. Publicly declare when new highway capacity is expected to become fully utilized by new traffic. Include these issues centrally in the review of ConnDOT recently ordered by Governor Rell.
  • Create a much stronger bicycle and pedestrian program — The state should take overdue advantage of flexible federal funding opportunities to diversify its mix of transportation projects. It should consider incentive programs to promote municipal efforts on cycling and walking, such as a bike/pedestrian program within the Town Aid for Roads funding.

# # #

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a policy watchdog organization working to reverse deepening automobile dependence in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut metropolitan region. www.tstc.org.