CONNPIRG

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of CT

CT CITIZEN’S TRANSPORTATION LOBBY

METROHARTFORD ALLIANCE

CT LIVABLE STREETS CAMPAIGN

REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION

CT CHAPTER OF THE SIERRA CLUB

TRI-STATE TRANSPORTATION CAMPAIGN

CT FUND for the ENVIRONMENT
CT ASSOCIATION for COMMUNITY TRANSPORTATION

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Ryan Lynch
860-796-6988, 212-268-7474

Groups Call for Congestion Pricing on Connecticut’s Roads

Congestion Mitigation and New Revenue Needed to Support Transit and to Maintain Road and Bridge Infrastructure

HARTFORD - Congestion pricing will reduce congestion, raise revenue for Connecticut's transportation system, and improve air quality, said a broad coalition of civic, environmental, and transportation groups Thursday. The announcement comes a day before the state's Joint Committee on Transportation considers legislation that would allow congestion pricing on Connecticut's roadways.

The groups, which included the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Metro-Hartford Alliance, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Regional Plan Association, ConnPIRG, Connecticut Citizens Transportation Lobby, Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club, Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign and the Connecticut Association for Community Transportation, called on Governor Rell and the State Legislature to support congestion pricing.

"Our bridges are crumbling and our roads are ranked the 5th worst in the nation," said Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Connecticut coordinator of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit transportation policy watchdog organization. " Congestion pricing will help maintain our infrastructure and set us on a safer path for the future."

According to Governor Rell's most recent budget, the state 's transportation fund will have a deficit of over $100 million by the end of 2010.

"The good news is people are driving less and cars are becoming more fuel efficient," said Jara Burnett of the League of Women Voters of CT. "The bad news is gas tax revenues that pay for our transportation systems are falling and new sources of revenue are necessary."

The coalition noted that even with recent declines in driving, congestion is still taking its toll on Connecticut 's economic productivity.

"According to the Texas Transportation Institute, congestion costs the state close to $500 million a year in delays, loss of productivity and excess fuel consumption," said Ilicia Balaban, issue advocate at ConnPIRG. "Pricing will reduce traffic at the busiest times, speeding commutes and reducing stress on our road and bridge infrastructure."

The groups said that along with road and bridge repair, congestion pricing revenue could be invested in public transportation.

"In order to meet Connecticut's greenhouse gas reduction goals, we must address the transportation sector," said Curt Johnson, Senior Attorney and Program Director for Connecticut Fund for the Environment. "In these tough economic times it is critical that we make decisions that will benefit us in the long term. Congestion pricing will help the state move towards a future of increased reliance on public transportation, which will improve our economy and create jobs, keep commerce running, protect our air, and establish the state as a leader in global warming action."

Earlier this week the American Public Transportation Association announced that public transportation use in 2008 was at its highest level in over 50 years. Connecticut also followed suit showing increases in ridership on the New Haven Metro-North Rail Line by 17.43% from 2007 to 2008.

"Transit use in Connecticut skyrocketed last year, even as gas prices ebbed," said Gloria Mills, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Community Transportation. "People are trying transit and realizing they like it. But keeping pace with better transit service will require an investment."

"We are moving into a greener future," said Molly McKay, transportation chair for the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club. "But in order to keep up with increasing transit use, we need additional revenue."

Citing the findings in a recent Transportation Strategy Board report, the groups also said that congestion pricing is most cost effective when implemented along existing roads.

"Congestion pricing reduces the need for roadway widening, freeing up funds for road maintenance and rail and bus improvements," said Amanda Kennedy of Regional Plan Association. "It is an important strategy for reducing Connecticut's transportation-related emissions."

Congestion pricing is very flexible and does not involve toll booths. It often entails charging higher fees at busy times of the day to encourage drivers to take trips during less congested times. Electronic collection systems enable drivers to pass through tolls at highway speeds.

"Congestion pricing can be tailored to the specific needs of the roadway," said Jill Kelly, co-chair of Connecticut Citizen's Transportation Lobby. "Connecticut should give it a chance."

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The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.  

Regional Plan Association (RPA) is an independent, not-for-profit regional planning organization that improves the quality of life and the economic competitiveness of the 31-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region through research, planning, and advocacy.  

The League of Women Voters is a non partisan political organization of men and women dedicated to increasing the informed and active participation of citizen in government  

The MetroHartford Alliance, the organization of 1,000 businesses, education and health care institutions, and municipalities, ensures that the Region competes aggressively for jobs, capital and talent. To that end, the Alliance supports pro-growth legislation, helps local companies expand, assists start-ups, encourages government investment in key infrastructure assets, develops programs for young professionals, and recruits companies from out of state to build a presence in the Region.  

The CT-Citizens Transportation Lobby is a group of concerned citizens working to improve transportation in Connecticut. With both long and short range goals, we are working on all facets of the problem including rail, bus, highway and barge.  

ConnPIRG is an advocate for the public interest and is dedicated to protecting consumers across Connecticut by standing up to powerful interests that oppose common sense reform.

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation (CACT) is committed to promoting and improving public transportation in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is a non-profit organization working to improve air and water quality, minimize the negative impacts of highways, and preserve open space, wetlands and public water supplies.