Fasano on Malloy’s Transportation Plan Comments: “Our plan dovetails with his. Why does he feel the need to attack?”

February 13, 2015

Article as it Appeared in the Hartford Courant
WATERBURY — Signaling that he’s ready for a political fight over Connecticut’s long-term transportation plans, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday dismissed the GOP’s new $37 billion proposal as partisan position paper.

“It’s not a plan and you know it’s not a plan,” Malloy told reporters Wednesday morning. “They’ve embarrassed themselves. Their transportation plan doesn’t have a single transportation project. Let’s agree that’s not a plan.”

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano countered that Republicans never intended to say which highways to repair or what transit systems to improve.

“The governor’s comments are unfortunate. He says he’s going to come out with Connecticut’s transportation future, I say that’s great — we’ve come out with a detailed plan to pay for it,” Fasano said Wednesday afternoon. “Our goal wasn’t to say what should be built, but how to pay for it. Our plan dovetails with his. Why does he feel the need to attack?”

Malloy is scheduled next week to put forward a two-year budget for the state, and also is promising a detailed 30-year proposal for widening highways, rebuilding bridges, modernizing rail lines, increasing bus service, improving airports and deep-water ports, and constructing bikeways and rail trails.

Republican legislators came out with their own proposal on Tuesday, saying Connecticut could generate $37 billion over 30 years without new taxes, tolls or fees by diverting some general fund money and postponing capital improvements in other areas.

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said Republicans have answered the question that voters and the press keep asking: How will Connecticut pay for a massive upgrade of its transportation network?

“We’ll have plenty of money for it” without new revenue, Fasano said

Malloy, who has not ruled out levying tolls, raising gas taxes or seeking other revenue sources, dismissed that notion.

“This is a political document that allows them to have talking points,” he said at Waterbury’s public works yard.

The governor visited the city to announce that his plan will include a multibillion-dollar replacement of the “mixmaster” interchange of Route 8 and I-84. The stack of elevated highways includes a series of flyover ramps and several entrances and exits to downtown.

“The mixmaster needs to be replaced, not in the distant future but relatively soon,” said Malloy, who has criticized past governors and legislatures for steadily putting off hard decisions about transportation spending.

The result of the delay, he said, is a massive backlog of maintenance projects, outdated infrastructure and severe traffic congestion that wastes dozens of hours a year for the average resident, Malloy said. His idea is to give taxpayers a detailed list of what needs to be done and what it will cost.

Malloy promised that his administration won’t follow the pattern of letting big-ticket projects consume vast amounts of the transportation department’s annual budget, a practice that keeps taxes steady but postpones other projects even further.

Despite political differences, many Republican legislators — especially those in Fairfield County — welcome Malloy’s pledge to map out a way to rebuild Metro-North’s century-old infrastructure and widen I-95 and I-84.

Rush-hour traffic between Fairfield County and New York City was severe 30 years ago, and has worsened since then. Business leaders have complained that congestion is hindering economic growth, and some have said they’d consider tolls as a way to pay for catching up with decades of neglect.