Fixing Transportation in Connecticut with a Sense of Urgency

January 6, 2015

By State Senator-elect Tony Hwang, CT 28th Senate District

Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is running on fumes.

Metro-North’s safety and service failures and its infrastructure inadequacies have been well documented over the past year. And as anyone who commutes on Connecticut’s roads can attest, our highways are equally deplorable. This troubling reality is most pronounced in the Bridgeport-Stamford corridor, although it is present on virtually every stretch of state highway, from I-84 in Danbury and Waterbury to I-91 in New Haven and Hartford.

A new report by the national transportation research group TRIP documents just how much our poorly maintained state roads are costing us financially. Brace yourself before considering these facts from the report:

Driving on deficient roads costs each Connecticut driver as much as $1,925 per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor

  • The total cost for the state is estimated at $4.2 billion annually
  • Forty-one percent of major roads in Connecticut are rated in poor condition and an additional 41% are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 18% are rated in good condition
  • More than one-third of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete

While the report reinforces what we already know all too well, seeing the specific dollar costs is alarming. This has to serve as the wake-up call state government so desperately needs when it comes to transportation.

We must prioritize, plan and follow through. And we must move with a sense of urgency. As the study shows, the cost of inaction is far too great – to our economy and quality of life.

Conversely, the financial benefits of action are an attractive incentive. According to the report, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

This also has everything to do with the economy and jobs. Our transportation infrastructure fuels the state’s economy because the faster we can move people and goods on our roads, the more competitive Connecticut becomes.

I am encouraged by Gov. Malloy’s renewed commitment to addressing the state’s transportation problems, and I hope he will engage in meaningful and open conversations with the legislature in coming up with solutions, both in the near- and long-term interest of our state.

The bottom line and legislative priority, though, is that we cannot stall. It’s time to put aside our political differences and make the difficult and necessary choices to invest in our state’s much-needed transportation infrastructure.