Let’s be honest, if we want Connecticut to grow — to be a place that attracts new jobs, new opportunities, higher home values and talented workers — we need to upgrade our outdated transportation network. We cannot expect to achieve our state’s full potential with aging bridges and highways that are clogged with cars, and trains that don’t arrive or depart on time.
When it comes to moving people and goods across our state we must be smarter and more efficient so we can drive down costs and remove barriers to growth.
Every minute you’re sitting in traffic is a minute lost spending time at dinner table or making a sale or in the boardroom. It is costing us time, productivity and raising costs. Connecticut residents and businesses are surrendering nearly $1 billion a year in lost time due to traffic on our roadways. Every year, Connecticut’s budget dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars for simple upkeep to our transportation system, which is well short of what is needed for true structural improvements that will ensure people and goods can move across our state easily and seamlessly.
It doesn’t have to be this way
How do we fix this and rebuild Connecticut’s transportation network in a way that maximizes our state’s potential for economic growth?
For starters, Gov. Lamont has directed the Department of Transportation to streamline administrative costs per mile making road repairs more affordable.
Additionally, our administration believes that Connecticut must also take a bold and creative approach to developing a 21st century transportation system. It is well past time for Connecticut to explore public-private partnerships as another way to save the state’s taxpayers money to finance and build projects, leveraging private-sector resources and investments while retaining public ownership of public assets.
Northern Virginia, one of the most heavily congested areas of the United States, provides an example of how a public-private partnership can help alleviate traffic. Faced with similar transportation issues as Connecticut, Virginia leveraged private sector resources to complete two highway improvement projects.
Of course, any plan to transform Connecticut’s roads, bridges and rail requires a predictable sustainable funding stream that doesn’t mortgage our kids’ and grandkids’ future. Connecticut remains the only state in the region that doesn’t charge user fees for wear-and-tear on its highways and it is killing our economic competitiveness. In essence, Connecticut is currently running a multistate charity for out-of-state car and truck drivers that don’t pay to use our roads.
One out-of-state tractor trailer puts the equivalent wear and tear on our roads of 9,600 cars. According to U.S. News and World Report, Connecticut is 41st among states in terms of quality of our infrastructure. We have more than 300 structurally deficient bridges.
It’s time we change that and the governor has presented a sensible and sustainable plan to the General Assembly that protects the revenues with a constitutional lockbox and federal law.
Under the governor’s plan, it is estimated that 40 percent of all revenue collected will come from out-of-state drivers. Connecticut residents will receive deep discounts, in addition to a frequent driver discount for those people who commute often. Our administration is also examining ways to minimize the impact on low-income individuals and families.
Connecticut has an opportunity to remake our transportation system, to get people out of traffic and to where they want to go. It’s time for Connecticut to get growing again.