Washington – The White House issued an alarming report Monday that said 41 percent of Connecticut’s roads are in poor condition and more than 9,500 jobs in the state will be lost unless Congress acts quickly to replenish a fund that pays for a lion’s share of the state’s infrastructure construction and repair.
The report is the latest push by the Obama administration to press warring lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that would fund the Highway Trust Fund, projected to go broke next month.
The report “It’s Time to Rebuild America” included interactive maps with statistics of what the White House says are deficient roads and bridges in every state.
The report said Connecticut has 21,414 miles of roads and that 41 percent of them are in poor shape. It also said 35 percent of Connecticut’s 4,218 bridges are structurally deficient. That doesn’t mean a bridge is unsafe, it only means the bridge needs upgrades or repairs.
The infrastructure report also said 9,612 jobs in Connecticut are at stake if the highway trust fund isn’t replenished.
The fund is finance largely through gasoline taxes. But revenue from those taxes has diminished as Americans drive more fuel-efficient cars.
Congressional Republicans do not want to raise the gas tax and have proposed a short-term fix that would fund the trust fund until May by tapping several federal accounts, including one that pays for underground storage tank cleanups.
Democrats, and the White House, want a more permanent fix.
Yet even a short-term solution is opposed by some of Congress’ most conservative members, who are supported by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation. They propose reforms that would transfer more of the cost of repairing and building roads and bridges to the states.
“To be clear, the funding shortfall — which will result in a slowing of federal payments to the states — was predictable,” said Michael A. Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage for America.
“The situation lawmakers find themselves in now is one of their own creation, and it serves to highlight the unsustainable nature of the current federal highway program. It has been bailed out multiple times since 2008, costing taxpayers more than $50 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office projects another $167 billion in bailouts will be necessary over the next decade.”