Legislators Letter calls for State Bonds to Fix Crumbling Roads and Bridges, Not Busway

February 15, 2012

Hartford, CT – The Central Connecticut Delegation of legislators in a letter is calling on the chairs of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee to raise a bill in the name of transportation safety. The Committee is scheduled to meet February 24th.

“Rather than funding a boondoggle of epic proportions, the funds would be better used to repair our badly deteriorating transportation infrastructure,” said Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington).

In a letter to the committee chairs, Senators Joe Markley and Jason Welch along with Representative Whit Betts suggest the bill would require any state bond funds appropriated for the Hartford to New Britain Busway project be made available instead, for the repair of state roads and bridges.

“Using $110 million of taxpayer money to fund a 9 mile Busway that many people will not use is irresponsible,” said Senator Welch (R-Bristol). “We have a great need to repair roads and bridges around our state. Connecticut must invest in projects that are essential to maintaining the safety of our people.”

The delegation points to recent remarks made by leaders in our state:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James Redeker at a Transportation forum, “bridge maintenance … is my nightmare,” and said the state’s statistics on bridge maintenance are starting to look more like they did before the Mianus River Bridge collapse. (New Haven Register, January 20 2012)
  • At Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s November commissioners meeting Redeker said, the bridges are the agency’s “biggest challenge,” pointing to how the number of outstanding problems to fix had grown from 531 just 11 years ago to about 2,000 today. (Associated Press, January 20, 2012)
  • “It’s just the aging infrastructure, particularly in New England. It’s a major challenge and we’re addressing it,” Redeker said. “But the problem continues. So, this is going to be a major focus of how we work and we invest our resources, because we can’t wait.”(Associated Press, Dec. 31, 2011)
  • DOT Chief Engineer, Thomas Harley said, “We do in fact have a decreasing condition of bridges.” (Associated Press, Dec. 31, 2011)
  • Congressman Chris Murphy stood in front of two of our states’ most deficient bridges one in New Milford and another in Thomaston calling for help to pay for repairs. According to Congressman Murphy, “Connecticut’s bridges are in dire need of repair: of the state’s 5,250 bridges, 1,779 are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete—some 34 percent,” (Housatonic Times, Dec. 29, 2011) and (WFSB.com, February 9, 2011)

More recently, Congress has noted the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for highway and transit programs, is going broke. A new Congressional Budget Office forecast estimates the government will have to delay payments to states beginning sometime in the 2013 federal budget year, which could force some projects to shut down.

Representative Whit Betts (R-Bristol) says, “It is time to prioritize how we spend transportation dollars. A $600 million Busway is not a good use of taxpayer dollars and we will not support spending any more of our money on such a boondoggle.”