Nearly every constituent I meet asks me the same question: What are you doing about infrastructure? From Bethel to Westport, it’s painfully clear that our transportation infrastructure is in crisis. According to U.S. News and World Report, Connecticut’s infrastructure ranks 46th in the nation. We have six of the country’s 100 worst traffic bottlenecks and one in ten of our bridges are structurally deficient. When our roads and rails are stuck in the 20th century, businesses and residents are left feeling pessimistic about the state’s future.

State Sen. Will Haskell

Needless to say, infrastructure problems disproportionately affect Fairfield County, the economic engine of our state. Without fast trains and clear highways, the vitality of our community is hampered each and every day. We cannot continue to put Band-Aids on this bleeding wound. It’s time for a concrete and forward-looking solution to our transportation woes.

With the release this week of Gov. Ned Lamont’s “Connecticut 2030” plan, we have that solution. Connecticut 2030 represents a historic investment in our state, one that streamlines traffic chokepoints, makes our roads safer and gives commuters more time to spend with their families.

What would this mean for us locally? First, it would deliver overhauls of Metro-North service, cutting 15-20 minutes off the average transit time into Grand Central Terminal. That’s paired with increased frequency of trains, new rail cars and enhanced maintenance schedules helping ease the commute on branch lines and main lines alike.

In addition, it would bolster our main thoroughfares in southwestern Connecticut. Up to $130 million of investments on I-95 in Westport, including the replacement of the bridge over Route 33, would improve safety and reduce congestion. Overhauling intersections on Route 1 would ease traffic on local roadways, as well. Congestion on Route 7 in Wilton and Norwalk will finally be addressed with overdue maintenance projects, while work on the Merritt Parkway and I-95 in Stamford and Norwalk will increase the speed of traffic in our neck of the woods. These are real changes that stand to transform our journeys to and from work every day.

Review the whole report.

The challenge that the legislature must face is how we’re going to pay for this better future. While some have proposed adding to the state’s credit card bill with long-term bonding, I’m concerned about further increasing the debt-load that our children and grandchildren will one day pay off. Instead, let’s ask those who drive on our major highways to contribute to the upkeep of our infrastructure. Connecticut 2030 proposes a limited number of toll gantries placed on bridges and intersections that are most in need of repair. The money raised by those who cross a bridge will go directly into repairing that bridge.

We all know that Connecticut can’t continue kicking the can down the road and accumulating debt. That’s why it’s important for a reliable revenue stream to accompany bonding. Foregoing tolls and borrowing the full amount necessary for improvements would send us back into a financial spiral. Connecticut 2030 is a reasonable mix of borrowing and financing, reflecting a compromise with those who have argued against tolling.

Not only does this plan collect almost 40% of funds from out-of-state vehicles – I’ve lost count of the number of out-of-state drivers I see enjoying a free ride while clogging our highways during rush hour – but it includes a built-in discount for Connecticut residents. My constituents have been paying tolls to Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey for years. I think it’s time we ask our neighbors to pay their fair share as they pass through Connecticut.

That’s why I’m impatient to vote on CT 2030 in the Senate and deliver real progress for our community. Connecticut residents deserve a clear, rational plan for infrastructure improvements. They know that high-speed rail and the transformation of our highways won’t happen overnight, but they want to see an achievable vision for the future.

As the legislature considers this bold proposal, I hope every citizen will take a look at which projects will be prioritized, how much they’ll cost, and how much time they will save commuters. You can visit ct2030.com, where the plan is laid out in remarkable detail. We need every stakeholder at the table to take this huge step forward.

The best time to act was yesterday. The second-best time is now. The budget is stable, our credit ratings are on the rise, and the work that’s gone into righting the ship these last several years is primed to pay off. If we don’t move now, we lose a key opportunity to build a better Connecticut for generations to come.

While Connecticut 2030 is a ten-year plan, its benefits can begin right away and will last well into the century. As a stakeholder in Connecticut’s future, I hope we take this necessary step to get our state moving again.

State Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, represents the 26th Senate District.

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14 Comments

  1. I found Sen Haskell’s opinion on the CT2030 Plan, future bonding, and his perspective on what is suitable for the common person, farcical in nature. Maybe, Sen Haskell doesn’t know the Average Median Income for a Greenwich Resident is $94,000.00. Maybe, Sen Haskell also doesn’t know a Monthly Train Pass from Greenwich to NYC is only $301.00 per month. Maybe, Sen Haskell doesn’t know the Mill Rate in Greenwich is 85% less than that of Hartford. So, if Sen Haskell and Gov Lamont want to make travel and life better for residents of Greenwich and others who live in the Golden Triangle…than they should be willing to pay for it out of their overflowing pockets. Not with the hard earned wages of the working stiffs in this state

  2. Go ahead and vote for tolls. You are in a safe district but one never knows…even all the do-gooders in Westport might react to yet another cash grab.
    Every ten years,of so, we get a new version of the same old plan.
    The bottom line? Spend within your means and spend revenue for the intended purpose,something this state is incapable of doing.
    Transportation issues are not what has put Connecticut at the bottom of most lists in this nation.

  3. Well done, Will Haskell: You make an effective case for the significant benefits and fair cost sharing of Gov. Lamont’s transportation proposal, “Connecticut 2030.”

    1. Greg, There is nothing fair about a regressive new tax on driving that hurts low and middle income people more than high income people.

      There is no “fair cost sharing” with new taxes for driving when the plan is to use much of that money and the FIFA money for trains without new taxes for train riders. Where in this new plan are increased “user fees” for train riders?

  4. https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/11/greenwich-connecticut-taxes-wealth-friendly-places-prosper/

    As the wealthy (who pay the majority of Connecticut’s income, property and sales taxes) depart, the hysteria over “transportation infrastructure” will increase based on the unbelievable fantasy that “tolls will jumpstart the economy”…..only in a completely economically detached world would increasing costs in the third least economically competitive state in the country be viewed as favorable for business.

    Anything to keep from cutting state government spending, including any government layoffs….

  5. I’ll take your word that many constituents express frustration about their commute. What you leave unsaid is whether they support tolls. Your omission about that is telling.
    Your also fail to address the trust issue regarding toll revenue. This governor, after campaigning on truck tolls only, once elected flipped to car and truck tolls breaking his word. He also diverted over $170 million from the Special Transportation Fund to the General Fund dream by with the spirit of the lockbox law.
    Simply put,the overtaxed citizenry simply doesn’t trust government will handle toll revenue properly. No trust, no TOLLS!

  6. Senator, there is no disagreement that our state needs infrastructure improvements, especially in the southwest portion; in fact, those projects should have completed decades ago. However, there is a very simple way to secure low-interest federal financing. Re-allocate 2% of the State Budget ($400 every year) for the next five years and use that to both secure low-interest-rate debt and speed infrastructure spending. If our ROI (based on CT2030 plan is accurate), then we are looking at over 100% return on investment. It means growing our tax base, creating jobs, and keeping businesses here – EVERYONE wants that. A 2% reallocation each year (of a $21 BILLION budget) is not a huge sacrifice for other state programs to make.

  7. State Senator Haskell has it right. We need a significant amount of money to maintain and improve our transportation network. The problem is the Republicans continue to lie to the public about the ability of the state to make this kind of investment without raising the gas tax. As a Republican I am embarrassed about this. Do people really think you can spend $21 billion and not have to pay it back? Do you really think our current budget can be cut to pay for this? Even Republican State Senator Len Fasano has admitted the budget is about as lean as can be expected. Tolls will bring in as much as $120 million a year from out of state drivers who currently use our roads for free. That’s $120 million a year that Connecticut taxpayers will not have to pay. I’m all for that.

      1. Our state has addressed the pension issue. If that was not true the major credit rating companies would not have improved our credit rating and our outlook. And we shouldn’t wait on these projects because they impact hundreds of thousands of people every day. More importantly, they will likely improve safety and save lives. Why wait?

      2. You and wall street can say its fixed. Its not fixed at all. Only Alaska is worse off in pension debt. According to ALEC and Yankee Institute ( even I’ll agree a biy partisan) but according to reports from march of 2019. Each CT citizen owes 32,805 per person in erase this debt. I have 4 people in my house hold. That is 131,220. If the average household owns that kind of money. Its not fixed. And again. No one seems to care to kick this can down the road. We should do the same with transportation. States can’t file for bankruptcy anyways so we can just carry debt.

      3. You obviously don’t understand how pension liability works. The chances of needing a fully funded plan are slim to none. Also Your references are hardly unbiased. ALEC is big business funded Lobbyists. The Yankee Institute is a known right wing group that pushes questionable data and analyses. Their motives are libertarian in nature. Hardly objective. I’d say the Independent groups actually buying our bonds are more reliable than a biased group with questionable motives anyway.

  8. No, Will. You’re wrong and on the wrong side of public opinion. This latest push to implement driving TAXES on Ct’s highways and bridges is full of holes. Those big plans for rail and train improvements depend on new driving TAXES on Ct’s vehicle drivers while claiming it’s a “user fee.” Where is the new user fee for the train riders?

    Lamont and his allies claim their driving TAXES are “temporary.” Oh sure, temporary for the 27 years needed to pay off the TIFA loans.

    The plan anticipates driving TAX revenue of $300 million in 2013 and $320 million annually after that. How does it increase? More gantries? Higher driving TAX rates at each gantry?

    Lamont said he has a “…pipeline of businesses to come to Ct.” Prove that, Ned. Show us the company names, the CEO names, and most importantly show us the signed letters of intent to come to Ct. from those companies you claim are in your pipeline.

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