During the last legislative session, there was plenty of arguing about our state’s transportation infrastructure, but unfortunately, little action was taken. Connecticut’s roads and bridges are outdated, and we know we need to fix them.
Luckily, it appears there’s going to be a new approach to transportation, one that will allow us to move past the controversy of how we pay for the fixes. It appears that Governor Lamont is planning to introduce a new proposal, one that first targets the problems before determining what the solution will be. That’s a key change to our current process, and one that will help us reach our end goal more effectively.
The biggest development in the last year that supports transportation infrastructure overhaul is that of federal assistance. With help from the federal government, the state is poised to receive a significant portion of necessary repair funds through an extremely low interest rate program that we would otherwise need to raise from the public. This is good news, as the state’s eventual bills would be lower once a plan is determined. More federal money means less state money pays for the work, which means we can focus on local priorities while still ensuring our roads are up to snuff.
While the issue of tolling remains a hot-button issue, the indications from the Governor’s office are that it may take a smaller role in the state’s eventual plans. This is good news, not only for the sake of bipartisanship and moving forward on a pressing issue, but in that a more targeted, less impactful tolling system would further benefit our state, especially one that ensures out-of-state drivers pay their fair share in response to wear and tear they cause on roadways.
Most importantly, these plans are worth considering because they represent an evolution of the discussion, an opportunity for two sides to come closer together on an issue that benefits the state as a whole. The additional freedom of federal funding helps to lessen the requirements we would need to place on a tolling network, which removes one of the most prominent topics from the table. Earlier this year, the question of tolls threatened to pre-empt that our state has one of the worst infrastructure networks in the country, placing arguments before problems requiring real solutions. This isn’t a time for all-or-nothing arguments, nor is it a time for name-calling. It’s time for us to put together a plan that pushes Connecticut forward.
I look forward to sharing more information about these proposals for Connecticut transportation in years to come, as they represent an excellent opportunity for our state to move into the future. We face significant challenges – but have significant opportunities.
State Senator Norm Needleman