Crawling along I-95 the other day in the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic, I snickered when I noticed the “Speed Limit 55” sign alongside the highway. I wish! Of course, when the highway is not jammed, speeds are more like 70 mph, with the legal limit, unfortunately, rarely being enforced. Which got me thinking: who sets speed limits on our highways and by what criteria?
Everybody writes “year in review” stories. But rather than dwell on the past, I’ve got the guts to predict the future! Here’s what will happen in 2016 in the transportation world on issues like Metro North performance, Uber, eminent domain for transportation, state highways and others.
While this column often is a rant about failing commuter rail service or an occasional rave for overdue investment in our highways, when you think about it, transportation is really an issue that affects many aspects of our lives: where we live, shop and go to work.
The nearly decade-long struggle to replace the crumbling Stamford railroad station parking garage has taken another bizarre turn: the Connecticut Department of Transportation now wants to spend $1.5 million and take six months to repair the garage before they tear it down.
Will the train of the future be a high-speed tube, not a railroad? That’s inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk’s and others’ vision. The concept sounds simple: move passengers in a sealed tube through a series of giant pipes propelled by air pressure at speeds up to 700+ mph. That would mean a trip from New York to Washington, D.C. would take 20 minutes.
It’s been a rough few years for Metro-North, what with derailments, crashes and commuter deaths. But it finally seems like service and safety are coming back.
A century ago, the only way to drive between New York and Boston was on Route 1, the Post Road. If you think traffic is bad today, imagine that journey. So in 1936, 2,000 men began work on the state’s largest public works project, the $21 million, four-lane parkway starting in Greenwich and running to […]
Train crashes, passenger deaths, grade-crossing accidents, derailments. These are not just the recent history of Metro-North, but events dating back decades. A friend of mine loves reading the microfilms of our town’s weekly newspaper and has been feeding me clippings of all the stories about the New Haven line. The news reports sound all too familiar.
Back in April I wrote about the challenge we face to pay for Gov. Malloy’s $100 billion transportation plan. And I expressed sympathy for his bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel tasked with coming up with funding alternatives, the Transportation Finance Panel. To be honest, I think that panel may be on a fool’s errand. They’re trying to pay for a wish list of projects not of their making and many of which may not be necessary, let alone affordable. Maybe we only need $50 billion. But it’s not their mandate to question our “transportation Governor.”
Today you can travel toll roads from Maine to Illinois to Virginia and use the same E-ZPass. And Connecticut drivers… get ready, as everyone admits that tolls are in our future. But even law-abiding E-ZPass holders should know that Big Brother may be watching them, miles from any toll lane. The NYC Dept of Transportation uses hundreds of E-ZPass readers in Manhattan, it says, to monitor the flow of traffic. Your E-ZPass could even let authorities determine if you were speeding as you pass between readers, though the NY Thruway insists that’s not in the plans and wouldn’t stand up in court. The choice is yours: pay cash, wait in long lines and remain anonymous… or get an E-ZPass, enjoy the discounts and speedy trips but leave a record of your travels.
Remember Gov. Dannel Malloy’s stealth proposal for a “Transit Corridor Development Authority,” described by some as “eminent domain on steroids?” Well, the initial idea to allow the state to acquire any land within a half-mile of train stations was modified, then killed in the legislature. And that’s not the only thing that got stuck recently.
As someone who has battled two decades for more spending on transportation, you’d think I would be happy with the state’s new biennial budget. But when you drill down into the details, there’s reason for concern. Gov. Dannel Malloy promised a down-payment on his $100 billion transportation dreams. And he did get one-half of one percent of the state sales tax repurposed for that… but it only pays down the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s enormous debt service.
There is no question that Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed $100 billion transportation plan for our state is, as he puts it, “bold.” The question is, is it achievable? The problem is that the governor’s plan isn’t a plan. It’s a wish list, with something for everyone in the state. Nobody has vetted the various projects to say what makes sense and what doesn’t. Nor has the governor offered any ideas on how to pay for them.