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.