ctnewsjunkie file photo
Don Shubert (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — A coalition of construction and building trades launched a seven-figure TV, online, and radio ad campaign Wednesday to highlight the deterioration of Connecticut’s infrastructure.

“The failure to act has resulted in Connecticut’s roads and bridges crumbling before our eyes,” Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said. “We cannot allow this to continue. The economic well-being of Connecticut, as well as the safety of Connecticut’s 3.5 million residents, is at stake. This effort will not stop until Hartford has acted to fix these issues.”

The campaign doesn’t specifically endorse tolls or increasing gasoline taxes, but they have prioritized an immediate fix to the current revenue shortfall in the Special Transportation Fund.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed increasing the 25 cent retail gas tax by seven cents and establishing tolls, which wouldn’t generate revenue for the state until at least 2021.

Last week, the legislature’s Transportation Committee advanced four bills that would increase revenue to the special transportation fund. One was the governor’s bill and another of the bills would require the Department of Transportation to study tolls and come back to them with a more specific proposal about where the gantries would be located and how much revenue would be generated. If the legislature failed to act on the DOT proposal, it would automatically be adopted after 30 days.

It’s unclear how much support there will be for establishing tolls in an election year.

The Connecticut Republican Party was already making tolls a partisan issue after the Transportation Committee’s vote.

“Connecticut Democrats are moving forward to add tolls to state roadways,” a Republican Party email stated last Thursday. “As if the Democratic Party has not cost Connecticut’s workers enough, they will be making the commute to work more expensive.”

But Move CT Forward isn’t looking at the issue through a partisan lens.

Connecticut’s infrastructure is crumbling and the Special Transportation Fund (STF) has run out. Some $4.3 billion in transportation projects have been suspended. According to the national transportation research group TRIP, the Reason Foundation, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, Connecticut roads are among the worst in the country. TRIP found that 57 percent of Connecticut roads are in “poor condition and 33 percent of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The TRIP report also notes that the abysmal condition of the state’s infrastructure costs motorists $864 a year in needed vehicle repairs.”

Additionally, this deteriorating infrastructure has a detrimental impact on the overall quality of life in the state. Residents spend over 45 hours per year stuck in traffic — valuable time that they could be spending with family and friends. Moreover, as a corridor state, our local economy is reliant on a strong transportation system.

“There are few greater investments we can make than properly funding our roads and bridges,” Keith Brothers, business manager of the CT Laborers’ District Council, said. “This is a matter of public safety and of creating opportunities to build up our state and local economy. If we fail to act and act now, the consequences will be disastrous for our state.”