Betts & Markley – Final push to block funding for the busway

October 6, 2011

Hartford, CT – Fresh off a trip to Washington D.C., Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington) and Representative Whit Betts (R-Bristol) are rallying the troops to block funding for the New Britain to Hartford busway.

Senator Markley said, “This thing costs nearly $1,000 an inch for a roadway on land that’s already graded. That’s an incomprehensible number. It’s like paying $50,000 for a toaster.”

Representative Whit Betts added, “”Using $600 million of taxpayer money to pay for a ‘new’ controversial busway when a bus system already exists between New Britain and Hartford is irresponsible and unacceptable. There are more urgent priorities – such as repairing the roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Irene – that are of greater importance to CT taxpayers. Common sense screams out that this $60 million a mile project should be put on hold.”

Both visited with a senior member of U.S. Representative John Mica’s office on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The meeting with the Republican Chair of the Transportation Committee’s staff was positive and renewed the fight to stop funding for this $569 million busway boondoggle.

“We were able to raise some questions with Rep. Mica’s staff about environmental issues with the busway, about how some expenses aren’t being included in the numbers presented in Washington,” Senator Markley said.

Right now, Congress is reviewing the project, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is deciding whether to formally approve funding contracts for the project. The FTA deadline is November 7th.

The busway is a prime example of government waste and both legislators have called on the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) to fight against federal funding for the 9 mile project. Executive Vice President of the NTU has written a letter calling for congress to ‘pause in the funding process.’ A portion of the attached letter is below:

Thus, in our opinion a prudent action would be a pause in the funding process, pending timely and comprehensive additional review of the busway’s ramifications. While the project’s advocates would question the feasibility of such a pause or raise the prospect of harm from more delay, the potential risks to the taxpayers of Connecticut and the nation deserve further consideration.

Pete Sepp/Executive Vice President National Taxpayers Union

Representative Betts and Senator Markley are calling on opponents to voice their opinion by calling Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s office at 202-366-4000.

On the state level a hearing officer from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment (DEEP) is deciding whether a wetlands permit will be granted to Connecticut transportation officials. The decision – expected to take about two months – will then be referred to DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty for final approval. Busway construction can’t begin until the permit issue is decided.

(Click here to see Senator Markley’s Busway video update)