Connecticut’s highways are among the busiest and most congested in the nation, according to a new report released by TRIP, a national transportation organization.
The report found that Connecticut has the third highest rate of vehicle travel per lane mile. That means an average lane mile of urban Interstate in Connecticut carried 15,391 vehicles per day in 2014. Connecticut also has the eighth most congested Interstate highways. At least 60 percent of Connecticut’s urban Interstate highways experience congestion during peak travel hours.
“When you consider that the Interstate system, which was developed in the 1950’s for the purpose of interstate commerce and possible evacuation routes for national emergencies, neither of these functions are now served by our present system,” Jack Condlin, president and CEO of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release. “Connecticut and the northeast are the poster child for congestion.”
The report also found that while 12 percent of Interstate highways are in poor or mediocre condition nationwide, 14 percent of Connecticut’s Interstate highways are in poor or mediocre condition. Seven percent of Connecticut’s Interstate bridges are structurally deficient — the fifth highest rate in the nation — and 19 percent are functionally obsolete.
“Moving products and people quickly and efficiently is a major concern for Connecticut’s business leaders,” Eric Gjede, assistant counsel for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said. “Congested highways and aging infrastructure impact delivery deadlines, hinder customer outreach, limit territories and markets, and pose quality of life issues in extending commutes for Connecticut workers.”
While there seemed to be support for improving to Connecticut’s transportation system, the General Assembly was unable to approve legislation that would have secured funding.
The legislature adjourned before approving a constitutional amendment to ensure that transportation funding continues to go to improving transportation.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed putting $2 billion on the state’s credit card over the new five years as a downpayment on his $100 billion, 30-year transportation plan.
However, Malloy hasn’t said whether he will support further investment without a “lockbox” mechanism to protect the transportation funds from other legislative priorities.
A half-percent of the sales tax was dedicated to help pay for a portion of the transportation improvements as part of last year’s budget.
“Transportation is too important to our future. If we want to grow jobs and attract businesses, we must make our infrastructure best-in-class. We’re making progress to change the way we travel, as we design and plan new projects that will help reverse decades of neglect. But there is much more to do,” Chris Collibee, a spokesman for Malloy, said. “Infrastructure is one of the top issues facing our state — and we have a $100 billion plan to tackle it. This report is yet another reminder of exactly why we must transform our transportation systems and take action.”