WASHINGTON – The Connecticut Department of Transportation has already drawn up a list of priority projects that they hope will secure funding from President Joe Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure package proposed two weeks ago.
State officials want to raise a portion of the $ 621 billion for transportation projects to ease congestion on I-84 in Danbury, build new bus systems in New Haven, Bridgeport and Stamford, replace three bridges on the New Haven railway line and the to improve Stamford Transportation Center, according to a list from Hearst Connecticut Media.
DOT will also prioritize converting all 700 CTTransit buses across the state from diesel to electric over the next 15 years, improve outdated traffic signaling technologies such as those along the Berlin Turnpike, and improve sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian signals to reduce road deaths.
The state also plans to create a nationwide charging system for electric vehicles, including faster chargers in high-traffic areas. They also hope the money will allow them to reintegrate Hartford and East Hartford, cities divided by I-91 and I-84, a project that has long been carried out by U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1 , was supported.
By and large, these projects reflect the state’s goals of reducing congestion, reconnecting neighborhoods, making rail more reliable, and improving urban transportation systems. These are longstanding priorities for DOT that cannot afford to fund today, said Garret Eucalito, assistant commissioner for CT DOT.
The American employment plan – the massive infrastructure package that could fund these projects – is just beginning to move through Congress, and Democrats are hoping it will be passed this summer. Many of DOT’s announced priority projects are in line with the goals of the federal plan, including promoting electric vehicles, repairing roads and bridges, and improving public transport, especially rail speed.
“The employment plan will enable states and municipalities to advance long overdue projects to repair roads and bridges, to expand and modernize transit – by the way, not only in large cities, but also in small communities – and more of them to connect our communities “Said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Monday. “Every single community and state will benefit greatly from it.”
DOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti has met with several Biden traffic administrators to highlight Connecticut’s traffic priorities and the need for a federal partnership, Eucalito said.
As the administration works to build support for the plan, the White House on Monday released testimonials for each state’s infrastructure that gave Connecticut a C-. The vast majority of states received C or C grades based on the conditions of their roads and bridges, public transportation, resilient infrastructure, drinking water, housing, broadband, care, childcare, manufacturing, domestic Energy supplies, clean energy jobs, and veterans health facilities.
“Connecticut has 248 bridges and more than 2,100 miles of freeway in disrepair,” the White House wrote in its state infrastructure bulletin. “Since 2011, Connecticut commute times have increased 10.9 percent. On average, each driver pays $ 711 a year in costs when driving on roads in need of repair. “
The infrastructure package goes well beyond pure transportation investments, including billions of dollars in affordable housing, clean energy technology, manufacturing investments, and money to support carers for the elderly and the disabled. State and local governments will be able to access $ 2 trillion in investments through some existing formulas and by applying for competitive grants.
The Biden government has proposed paying for the investment through corporate tax increases.
Republicans in Congress are opposed to these increases, and are quick to point out that the package is deviating from more traditional definitions of infrastructure and mixing in items from the Democrats’ climate change agenda and other wish lists. A Republican who met with Biden on Monday said his party could not support laws that wiped out part of their 2017 tax law with corporate tax increases.
Buttigieg dismissed the question of what infrastructure is on Monday as a “semantic debate,” insisting that their plan had a lot of support from both parties.
Connecticut was long behind on maintenance projects and transportation improvements earmarked for government investment, but not enough money to make them. This issue sparked a controversial debate about the introduction of highway tolls in Connecticut, which Governor Ned Lamont and other Democrats pushed for, but ultimately did not pass.
Now the state democrats are advocating a new user fee for tractor units that drive through the state in order to finance further transport improvements. That could generate $ 90 million in annual sales, said Transportation Committee Chairman Senator Will Haskell, D-Westport.
Buttigieg said Monday the American employment plan would not eliminate the need for state and local governments to continue their own investments.
“I have never seen a case in which planned local investments make less sense because the federal government is stepping up,” he said.
Eucalito said Connecticut is viewing funding from the American Jobs Plan as an addition to state investments and other federal funding for transportation.
“We don’t have a specific dollar amount we’re looking for, but I think we’re in a good position to get a bigger stake than we would traditionally get for a state the size of Connecticut, and some of that is on it We are already working and planning in many of these areas, ”said Eucalito.
[email protected]; Twitter: @emiliemunson