HARTFORD – Today, Connecticut Republican lawmakers unveiled a five step transportation improvement strategy to fix our roads, bridges and rail, spark economic development, grow jobs and improve quality of life for every resident.
Republicans offered the proposal as a way to fund transportation over the long term.
“We all agree that Connecticut cannot wait to fix our transportation system any longer. No one has advocated for immediate action more vehemently than Republicans, but we don’t believe tolls are the answer,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “While some Democrats believe tolls may be a possible solution, perhaps they will consider this as a more layered solution to a complex problem. Connecticut residents are troubled by tolls. We encourage all lawmakers to review this detailed bill, ask us questions, and rally together to do what is best for Connecticut. Let’s get this done.”
“This proposal includes bipartisan ideas that have been discussed throughout the legislative session to better define the state’s transportation needs, find efficiencies and develop a long term plan and vision,” said House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby). “This plan would enable the state to immediately invest a historic amount in transportation to get projects started right away, and develop a long term strategy to carry our state forward for the next generation.”
The five major elements are as follows:
1) Immediately Invest in Infrastructure
Immediately increase investment in transportation over the next 5 years.
Staying within the state’s new bond caps, dedicate $375 million in General Obligation bonding to transportation annually for the next 5 years. When added to current federal funding and maintaining current Special Tax Obligation bonds, this would result in approximately $1.9 billion in annual transportation funding – a historic investment in Connecticut infrastructure. This investment will enable the state to get started on needed improvements on July 1, 2019. Should this course of action be determined to be a successful strategy by state officials, legislators and transportation overseers (see below), it could be expanded into future years as a long-term transportation funding plan.
2) Identify Needs & Eliminate Waste
Identify the state’s long-term transportation needs and require the DOT to submit specific plans to the legislature to ensure funding is prioritized for infrastructure.
Require the State Department of Transportation to submit a report to the legislature that identifies the state’s infrastructure needs and specific schedules to complete projects. This includes a 3 year maintenance and repair plan with quarterly updates, a 5 year construction project plan with quarterly updates, a priority list based on projects the improve the state economy, and a financing plan using only authorized sources of revenue. This will increase transparency regarding pressing needs, priority projects, projected costs and planned timelines This report is due by the first day of the legislative session and must be shared with legislative leaders and members of the following committees: Finance, Revenue and Bonding; Appropriations and Transportation.
3) Develop Long Term Strategy & Seek Efficiencies
Reestablish the Transportation Strategy and Advisory Board (TSAB) to increase public involvement and oversight of transportation investments, planning and projects.
The TSAB operated successfully under Governor Jodi Rell as a nonpartisan watchdog and advisor for state transportation issues. Under this plan, the TSAB would be reestablished to include 14 members, including but not limited to representatives of small and large businesses, executive directors of the Port Authority and Airport Authority, and a commuter advocacy representative. The TSAB would be required to develop a report on the sustainability of the state’s Special Transportation Fund and recommendations to stabilize the fund. It would also be required to develop and propose a long term transportation strategy to be submitted to the General Assembly and make recommendations for savings and efficiencies.
4) Public Private Partnerships
Allow Connecticut to explore public private partnerships with public input and legislative oversight.
Revise state law to allow for public-private partnerships by removing the limitations on the types of projects and the amount of projects that may be considered. P3s are emerging around the country as an option to leverage the private sector to invest in transportation from airports to bridges. Before entering in to any P3 agreement, the Governor would be required to submit all project proposals to the Commerce, Appropriations and Finance, Revenue & Bonding committees and public hearings would be held. Proposed partnerships must demonstrate a positive impact on job creation and economic growth.
5) Address Five Worst Bridges
Develop a plan to address CT’s five worst bridges most in need of replacement.
Require the DOT to investigate five of Connecticut’s bridges most in critical need of replacement. Require DOT to consult with the Federal Highway Authority regarding the replacement, construction and financing of the costs associated with these five critical needs. DOT would recommend plans for these major projects to then be voted on by the full legislature following public hearings.