Gov. Dannel P. Malloy touted an analysis Thursday that he says explains why he’s moving forward with his 30-year, $100 billion initiative to improve how Connecticut residents get around the state.
The Department of Transportation released a report that explains the benefit of widening Connecticut’s highways.
According to the report, adding a lane in each direction on I-95 across southern Connecticut will produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, add $9 billion to the state’s gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers. The widening itself is estimated to cost $10.7 billion, according to DOT estimates.
The I-84 widening project between Danbury and Waterbury will produce $4.4 billion in new business sales, add $2.6 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $1.8 billion in new wage income to workers, the analysis concluded. The total cost of that project is estimated at $1.5 billion.
Daily traffic varies widely, but on average the I-95 corridor accommodates over 135,000 vehicles daily, including over 18,000 trucks on portions of the corridor. An estimated 80,000-plus drivers utilize the I-84 corridor.
Malloy said widening I-95 will save drivers over 14 million hours of delay by the year 2040. And by widening I-84 we’re looking at saving drivers over 4.7 million hours by 2040.
“These numbers prove that widening our interstates is the smart thing to do, and demonstrate what we’d be losing if we don’t do it, in terms of our economy, jobs, and productivity,” Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said. “We really can’t afford to wait. If we unite in this effort, we will create the right strategy for Connecticut’s transportation future — building today for tomorrow.”
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said what Malloy isn’t telling people is about “the massive tax hikes the governor will need to inflict on taxpayers to pay for his oversized and unrealistic $100-billion plan.”
Fasano said the analysis released Thursday “fails to talk about the potential job losses that would follow. It fails to talk about the burdens every single person in Connecticut will face as a result of a plan that counts on money our state simply doesn’t have and cannot afford.”
Malloy, who has been pitching the plan for more than a year and has already started borrowing to fund it, said the state needs a “first-in-class” transportation system. He has said it’s the most important thing the state can do in order to be economically competitive.
He said Connecticut’s highways are coming down “one way or another” so “we’d rather do it as a controlled situation rather than waking up one day and finding it like that.”
Fasano doesn’t necessarily disagree.
“I agree that transportation must be a priority, but we have to be realistic and honest about what our state can afford to do,” Fasano said.
He said the projects that were analyzed in the report could be funded with at least $1 billion every year for the next 30 years without the need to raise taxes, if Malloy rearranged some of the state’s priorities.
Malloy’s administration has dismissed the Republican proposal to fund transportation. A Malloy spokesman has said $1 billion a year is only enough to fund the status quo.
On Thursday, outside a garage in East Hartford, Malloy said the residents of Connecticut “have been short-changed for the better part of 40 years.” He insisted that improving the state’s transportation infrastructure is what Connecticut residents want.