“Rails Rule!”

February 8, 2016

Sen. Boucher Applauds Gov’s Rail Emphasis;

Says Transportation “Lockbox” is Essential to Protecting Often Raided Transportation Funds

Sen. Toni Boucher, the ranking senator on the legislature’s Transportation Committee, today applauded Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for his focus on increasing train ridership on the Danbury, Waterbury, and New Haven lines to solve Connecticut’s transportation problems.

“Prioritizing mass transit with a focus on the Danbury and Waterbury lines is a step in the right direction, and I commend the governor for doing so,” said Sen. Boucher said. “Upgrading our rail system is the most cost effective way to reduce traffic on I-84 and ease congestion from Waterbury to Danbury to the New York border. Rails rule!”

“Some western Connecticut legislators and I have been pushing for increased investment in the Danbury and Waterbury branch lines for years. In fact, my first challenge at the State Capitol some years ago was to keep these lines running by fighting off a proposal to completely shut them down. I was later able to secure the funding to computerize the Danbury line’s signal system. This has been a 15-year battle to replenish raided budget accounts for this purpose.

“Now, everyone understands that improvements to these lines will result in increased economic activity and help to strengthen and grow Connecticut businesses. The dramatic increase in ridership has the governor focusing on the economic potential of all our rail lines, not just the main line. I commend the governor for recognizing mass transit’s importance to Connecticut’s future success. He is prioritizing progress.”

The governor has asked that a constitutional “lockbox” be created so that tax dollars for rail upgrades are not raided to balance the state budget.

“For several years, the Transportation Committee has supported the creation of a lockbox,” Sen. Boucher said. “The proposal has yet to be passed by both the House and Senate with the support necessary to be put on the November ballot. We got close last year when it was passed unanimously by the Senate, but it stalled in the House. Now, the governor has joined this effort.

“We must ensure that what we pay at the pump in the form of high gas taxes is actually spent on transportation infrastructure projects. The lockbox cannot be pickable, however. The current legislative language to create the lockbox has flaws. It still provides avenues for tax dollars to be diverted from the lockbox. I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans at the State Capitol to improve this language.

“By passing this important legislation, we will put our state on a path to fixing Connecticut’s roads, rails and bridges, especially in Fairfield County, a region with the greatest number of jobs and congestion, where improvements are needed most.”

Sen. Boucher can be contacted at 800-842-1421 or at [email protected] .