Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy recently announced that $4.3 billion in transportation projects have been placed on hold until the General Assembly devotes more money to the State Transportation Fund.
Nearly 400 projects stand to be delayed over the next five years. The projects include replacing the Hartford Interstate 84 viaduct, widening I-95 from Bridgeport to Stamford and renovating the I-84 “Mixmaster” interchange in Waterbury. I-84 runs southwest to northeast through Connecticut and intersects Hartford.
“If Connecticut does not take the necessary action to allow us to restart these vital projects, not only will it put the state’s infrastructure into a further state of disrepair, it will hurt our economy,” Malloy said in a press release his administration issued Jan. 10. “We need a transportation system that works for people and businesses, and we need to invest in transit-oriented development to build the communities where people and businesses want to be. This is preventable, but it requires immediate action. The legislature must act this year to avoid potentially devastating setbacks to our transportation system.”
The State Transportation Fund finances Connecticut’s transportation system, including the operating costs of CTDOT and all of the services it provides. According to the press release, Malloy has said that he will announce detailed proposals for the General Assembly to consider to get the projects back on schedule before the end of January.
Malloy, a Democrat, has stated that he will not run for reelection in 2018.
This announcement is not the first notice that transportation projects are in jeopardy of losing funding in Connecticut. In November, eight CTDOT projects were placed on hold to save $26.4 million.
“The cupboard is bare. Without a dedicated, stable stream of revenue to the Special Transportation Fund, our infrastructure will continue to rot and decay,” State Representative Tony Guerrera, co-chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said in the press release. “We sit at the precipice of a transportation tragedy that can be avoided by investing in roads and bridges. We must act immediately in the 2018 legislative session and institute tolls or another revenue stream to avert the oncoming crisis.”
Lack of highway funding is a nationwide issue. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval discussed the importance of federal support for state infrastructure projects during the National Governors Association’s State of the States address Jan. 12. He said that solidifying the Highway Trust Fund is a pressing concern that needs to be resolved with statewide collaboration and federal support.
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The Highway Trust Fund account backs states with funding assistance through revenue collected from federal gas and diesel taxes. Improvements in fuel consumption and shifting driving habits contributed to the account’s steady decline, prompting several general fund transfers in recent years to maintain its solvency.
“States must invest in quality infrastructure to meet our nation’s needs,” Sandoval said in his speech. “Successful state action shouldn’t signal a desire for federal disengagement. States need a strong and steady federal partner.”