We need a transportation funding compromise
There is unanimous agreement that Connecticut’s infrastructure is in terrible shape: 300+ bridges are rated structurally deficient (their average age is 69 years vs. an expected life of 50 years; the average age of all state bridges is 53 and four are 100+). Today, trains must slow to a crawl to cross the worst bridges to lessen stress.
Two plans with solutions to fund comprehensive maintenance and upgrades to our transportation infrastructure are already on the table. A compromise bill could emerge this week.
Gov. Lamont’s plan– implement tolls: Tolls would be a new revenue source paid by users including out-of-staters; have flexible pricing for CT EZ Pass, frequent and low-income users. (Note that 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have tolls. 40 percent of drivers on CT roads are Out-of-Staters.) But toll revenue would not likely come onstream until 2022.
CT GOP – Issue Bonds: Prioritize bond issuance for transportation. Funding could start immediately but state taxpayers would pay the whole cost of 30-year bonds including a multiplier from interest. Other state projects would be deferred including school construction, municipal aid, clean water projects, brownfield remediation, housing programs and others. Today, bond repayment eats up 30 percent of the Department of Transportation’s budget.
Compromise bill? Implement tolls but issue some bonds now for fast action to fix the worst bridges and roads until toll receipts come online?
Call to action: We need tell our legislators to take action now. We need to fund building an infrastructure that can support a strong economy and attract/keep people and businesses. A compromise bill could support these goals.
The Mianus River Bridge that dropped 100 feet of roadway into the river below on June 28, 1983 was “only” 30 years old.
Jackie Kaiko lives in Stamford.
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