Feds to brief legislators on transportation funding alternatives
With a briefing by federal transportation finance officials, the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to give lawmakers a glimpse Friday of potential ways the state might fund a 10-year transportation infrastructure plan without significant highway tolls.
Officials from the Build America Bureau of the U.S. Department of Transportation are coming to Hartford to privately brief lawmakers on the transportation-finance alternatives that the Lamont administration has been exploring since running into a dead end on its tolls plan.
The Lamont administration has been working on CT2030, a list of highway and rail improvements that could upgrade aging infrastructure and shorten commutes.
“I think we’re going to be ready to roll that out in next two weeks,” Lamont said Monday.
The governor said the goal is to make the case for projects that can make a material improvement in the lives of commuters over the next decade and also improve the state’s business climate. As an example, he mentioned a recently completed widening of I-84 outside Waterbury that eliminated a bottleneck and sped up rush-hour traffic.
“I’m trying to show people comprehensively that we can speed up a few of these bottlenecks over the next 10 years, dramatically make a difference in that mom or dad’s commute to the office, to go pick up their child, what that means in terms of business,” Lamont said. “And then how we can responsibly pay for it.”
In visits over the summer to Washington, the governor’s chief of staff, Ryan Drajewicz, has explored whether it would make sense to seek credit assistance from two programs Connecticut has not used, at least not in recent years: TIFIA, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, and RRIF, the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program.
Max Reiss, the governor’s communications director, said some of the federal programs offer loans at rates unavailable to the state in the bond markets.
“We’re looking for an informative session,” Drajewicz said Monday. “It’s an opportunity for legislators to ask questions.”
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he is eager to see what alternatives to tolls and bonding might be available after fruitless talks about tolls at the end of the regular legislative session in June.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d want to talk about transportation ever again.”
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