OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 7367 (as amended by House "A" and "B")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

SUMMARY:

This bill:

1. requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop criteria for leasing naming rights for transit stations and other transit-property;

2. extends the transportation commissioner's authority to declare transportation emergencies to cover state- or municipally-owned airports;

3. establishes several initiatives for preserving licensed privately-owned public use airports, including a right of first refusal for the state to purchase them;

4. authorizes the operation of articulated and double deck buses on Connecticut roads;

5. authorizes the transportation commissioner to make loans to individuals, businesses, or organizations to finance the acquisition of vanpool vehicles;

6. repeals three previously enacted transfers of DOT property because the entity to whom the property was being transferred either does not want it or declined to purchase it;

7. requires DOT to notify and consider recommendations from state and local officials before any railroad line is reactivated in their jurisdiction;

8. designates commemorative names for 20 road segments and 10 bridges and rewords or corrects several previous designations;

9. requires informational signs identifying five locations; and

10. requires DOT to modify the official map of the state highway system to establish the boundary between Danbury and Ridgefield as it is described in the Danbury land records.

The bill also requires DOT to suspend its plan to realign the section of Route 113 between Access Road and Dorne Drive in Stratford (Main Street) until April 15, 2008. If no agreement has been reached between Stratford and Bridgeport with respect to the disposition of Sikorsky Memorial Airport by that date, DOT must conduct at least one public hearing in both Stratford and Bridgeport on the proposed realignment.

The bill also requires the DOT to install crossing gates and electric signals at the Route 203 railroad-highway grade crossing in Windham.

*House Amendment “A” (1) deletes a provision establishing special procedures for DOT to follow should it dispose of excess property acquired for the Route 6 expressway project and a requirement for installation of signals at Manning Bridge Road rail crossing in Windham; (2) adds the provisions on private airport preservation, vanpool loans, and redesignation of the Danbury-Ridgefield border on the official state highway map; (3) revises the requirements for a public hearing prior to reactivation of a discontinued rail line; and (4) adds several additional highway and bridge commemorative designations and revises several others.

*House Amendment “B” adds the provision temporarily suspending the Route 113 realignment project in Stratford.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage; except the articulated bus transit property naming rights, vanpool loan, and private airport preservation provisions are effective July 1, 2007; and the double deck bus and rail crossing provisions are effective October 1, 2007.

NAMING RIGHTS FOR TRANSIT STATIONS AND PROPERTY

The bill requires the transportation commissioner to develop procedures, in accordance with the general statutes, for leasing naming rights to transit stations and transit-owned property to private corporations and organizations. The commissioner must establish the criteria for leasing these rights and submit them to the Transportation Committee by January 30, 2008. They must be approved by the committee by the close of the 2008 legislative session.

TRANSPORTATION EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS AT AIRPORTS

By law, the transportation commissioner may declare a state of emergency with regard to state- or municipally-owned railroad and transit systems and facilities. If he does, he may employ, in any manner, any assistance he requires to restore the railroad or transit system, equipment, or service. A declaration may be made for any such railroad system when an unsafe condition is found to exist or when there is an interruption of essential rail services, whether or not the system, its facilities, or its equipment is physically damaged. A declaration may be made with respect to a transit system when a transit facility is damaged as a result of a natural disaster or incurs substantial casualty loss which results in an unsafe condition or there is an interruption of essential services.

The bill applies the commissioner's emergency authority to situations where a state- or municipally-owned airport or its equipment is damaged by a natural disaster, incurs a substantial casualty loss that results in an unsafe condition, or when there is an interruption of essential services. The state owns and operates six airports (Bradley International, Brainard, Groton-New London, Waterbury-Oxford, Windham, and Danielson). There are four municipally-owned airports in Connecticut (Tweed-New Haven, Sikorsky Memorial, Danbury, and Meriden Markham).

PRIVATE AIRPORT PRESERVATION INITIATIVES

The bill establishes several initiatives for preserving licensed privately-owned airports open for public use. These initiatives apply to airports that have a paved runway and at least 5,000 operations per year. These initiatives include:

1. a right of first refusal for the state to purchase for fair market value according to state property acquisition procedures any such airport that is threatened with sale or closure with the sole purchase for the acquisition being preservation of the airport;

2. DOT acquisition of development rights for fair market value provided the airport remains a public use airport;

3. DOT funding of 90% of the eligible costs for capital improvements at private airports with the balance paid for by the project sponsor and all budget and project priorities determined by DOT and project engineering performed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration advisory circulars; and

4. establishing an airport zoning category for the airport's “imaginary surfaces' as defined by FAA regulations.

For development within the airport's imaginary surfaces, the bill requires notices for proposed construction and a federal determination of obstructions to the airport's airspace. The bill prohibits construction of obstructions deemed hazardous to navigation. Runway “imaginary surfaces” are established by FAA regulation for civil airports based on the airport's type and use. Construction within these imaginary surfaces, which extend upward and outward from the runway, must meet certain notice and review requirements in order for the FAA to determine if the construction represents a hazard to air navigation and what actions are required to mitigate the hazard (14 CFR Part 77).

ARTICULATED AND DOUBLE DECK BUSES

The bill defines an articulated bus as a motor vehicle designed to carry public transit passengers that has two separate passenger compartments connected by a kingpin or other similar joint. It may be composed of a tractor section and a trailer section or a forward unpowered unit and a powered trailer unit. Association of this definition with the maximum motor vehicle width and length law makes it clear that they can be legally operated under the statutory maximum 65-foot length limit without a special DOT permit, although it appears that they may have been able to do that anyway.

The bill also allows anyone who holds a DOT permit to operate interstate motor bus service to register and operate a bus in Connecticut that has two decks as long as the double deck bus complies with federal manufacturing and safety standards. It requires the transportation commissioner to adopt regulations. This would override certain provisions of bus standards that were adopted by the former Connecticut Public Utilities Commission in 1952 that have the effect of preventing this style of bus from being legally operated in the state.

REACTIVATED RAIL LINES

The bill requires the transportation commissioner to notify state and municipal officials within 45 days after receiving notification of the reactivation from the railroad. It requires the commissioner, or a designee, to determine if a public hearing is required with respect to the safety of rail crossings along the reactivated line. The commissioner must hold a hearing if a state or municipal official requests one. The hearing must be held at least 90 days before the rail line is reactivated. The commissioner must review and incorporate, as deemed appropriate, any comments or recommendations the DOT hearing officer receives in order to address concerns raised at the hearing.

REPEAL OF PRIOR DOT PROPERTY TRANSFERS

The bill repeals three transfers of DOT property previously authorized by the legislature, but not consummated because the designated recipient chose not to acquire the property. These involve:

1. a 1. 65 acre parcel in Sprague (PA 05-279 4);

2. a parcel in Milford (PA 05-279 31); and

3. a 0. 56 acre parcel in Meriden (SA 99-17 6).

COMMEMORATIVE ROAD AND BRIDGE NAMES AND DESTINATION SIGNS

Commemorative Names

The bill designates commemorative names for 20 state road segments and 10 state bridges. The designations are shown below.

Location

Commemorative Designation

Roads

Route 71 in New Britain from the intersection of South Main Street and Rockwell Avenue to the Berlin town line

“Marine Corps League Memorial Highway”

Route 66 in Middletown from State Road 545 to Route 17

“Charles E. Rau Memorial Highway”

Route 372 from the Plainville-New Britain line east to the intersection with Route 555

“Lieutenant Colonel Vincent J. Bracha Memorial Highway”

Route 16 in Colchester from Route 85 east to the Lebanon town line

“PFC William 'Jimmy' Johnston Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Memorial Highway”

Route 10 in Avon from Route 44 north to the Avon-Simsbury town line

“Avon Veterans Memorial Highway”

The road segment from Memorial Field to the intersection of Route 37 to Overbrook Road in New Fairfield

“Veterans Way”

The road segment from Route 37 center from Sawmill road to the intersection of Route 39 north and Spring Lake Road in Sherman

“Veterans Way”

The road segment from the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Route 341 to Route 7 to Cobble Lane in Kent

“Veterans Way”

Route 1 in West Haven east from the Orange-West Haven town line to the overpass of the Cove River

“AMVETS Post 1 Memorial Highway”

State Route 116 in Ridgefield from the intersection of Barlow Mountain Road to the New York state line

“Elizabeth M. Leonard Memorial Highway”

State Route 35 in Ridgefield from the intersection of Route 33 to Peter Parley Lane

“Richard E. Venus Memorial Highway”

Route 4 east from Brickyard Road to Route 10 in Farmington

“Lieutenant Colonel Warren Lane Memorial Highway”

Route 5 in Wallingford from Route 150 to the Meriden town line

“VFW CT Ladies Auxiliary Highway”

Route 190 east in Suffield from Route 75 to Route 159

“Corporal Stephen R. Bixler Memorial Highway”

Route 4 east from State Road 508 to The University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington

“Lawrence Robert Philippon Memorial Highway”

Route 77 in Durham

“Charles W. Wimler Highway”

A road segment (unspecified) in South Windsor

“Officer Harvey R. Young Memorial Highway”

Route 6 in Bethel from the Vail Road to the Danbury town line

“Trooper James W. Lambert Memorial Highway”

Route 73 at the intersection with Aurora Street in Waterbury

“Captain John Keane Memorial Highway”

State Road 529 in West Hartford east from Route 173 to the West Hartford-Hartford town line

“West Hartford Veteran's Memorial Highway”

Bridges

Bridge No. 03405 over Route 372 in New Britain

“Lieutenant Sherrod E. Skinner Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 813 on I-91 over Route 15 in Hartford

“Sergeant Matthew D. Arace Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 06057 on Route 71 in New Britain over Route 9

“Anthony Tercyak Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 05994 on I-91 southbound in Hartford

“Officers' Club of Connecticut Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 05307 in I-84 eastbound in Danbury

“Association of the United States Army Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 06154 on Route 140 in Warehouse Point

“World War I Bridge”

Bridge No. 03149 on Route 136 over the Saugatuck River in Westport

“William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 00882 on Route 20 over the Salmon Brook

“Vincent R. T. Arduini Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 00480 on I-91 over State Road 530

“Francis M. DeLucco Memorial Bridge”

Bridge No. 0057 on I-95 over West Avenue in Norwalk

“Wilfredo Perez Memorial Highway”

The bill changes the designation of State Bridge Nos. 4320A and 4320B on I-84 over Washington Street in Waterbury which were named in 2006 “In Honor of the United States Army's First Infantry Division” to the “United States Army's First Infantry Division Bridge. ” It also changes the 2005 designation of the segment of Route 174 in Newington from the New Britain border to Maple Hill Avenue from the “Officer Peter Lavery Memorial Highway” to the “Master Police Officer Peter Lavery Memorial Highway”.

As a result of the naming of a segment of Route 16 in Colchester for PFC William 'Jimmy” Johnston, the bill repeals a 2005 designation of a bridge on Route 16 for him.

The bill also corrects (1) the spelling of the designation of Route 53 in Bethel from the “John. L. Tiele Memorial Highway” to the “John L. Thiele Memorial Highway” and (2) the previous designation of Bridge No. 6104A on Route 9 southbound over Route 175 Donald H. Platt as a bridge rather than a highway.

Location Signs

The bill requires DOT to erect signs for specific locations in the following locations:

1. in Oakdale designating the location of The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art;

2. on the Metro North overpass in Milford designating the location of the Milford Fine Arts Council;

3. on Route 8 northbound in Watertown designating the location of the Watertown Business Park;

4. on both sides of I-95 at exit 74 designating the location of the Niantic Bay Boardwalk; and

5. on I-91 at exit 23 designating the location of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Headquarters.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

30

Nay

0

(03/16/2007)

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

10

Nay

0

(04/18/2007)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

44

Nay

0

(04/30/2007)