Transportation Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5746

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Vote Date:

3/7/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/5/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Transportation Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To revise and clarify certain transportation statutes.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

The State Department of Transportation supports this bill.

Section 1 – Reimbursement rate for utilities within the DOT right-of-way

n The proposed changes to section 13a-126 will clarify the reimbursement that the owner of any public service facility is entitled to. Municipally owned facilities are entitled to 100% reimbursement less deductions.

n Public service facilities are entitled to 100% reimbursement less deductions when the work is associated with improvements to limited access highways.

n Public service facilities are entitled 50% reimbursement less deductions when the work is associated with improvements to any state highway except limited access highways.

This bill also clarifies that a public service facility is required to adjust or relocate their facilities “upon receipt” of an order from the Commissioner of Transportation.

Section 2 – Contractor utilization

This proposal assists the DOT in hiring quality firms to provide constructability/plan review and value engineering in the design phase of a project. Precluding a consultant firm, which the current statute can be interpreted to do if the consultant or contractor worked on a previous stage, will discourage well qualified top tier firms from participating in this task at a time when there is increased focus on improving the quality of contract documents.

Section 3 – Establishing double fines in traffic management areas

Establishing double fines in traffic incident management areas is a necessary step.

Section 4 – Prohibition of open alcoholic containers in the passenger compartment of motor vehicles

Since the State does not prohibit drivers or passengers from possessing or consuming open alcoholic containers, 3% of funds it would have received from the National Highway System and Interstate Maintenance funds are transferred into the 402 Highway Safety Program and/or Hazard Elimination Program. The State does not lose funding, but is under greater restriction when funds are in the 402 program. As of 10/06, $27,217,967 was transferred for non-compliance under this program. Enacting this provision would put an end to this transfer.

Section 5 – State Pier Agreements

This proposal will allow the State to proceed with agreements while the agreements are being processed. The DOT will be better prepared to solicit proposals for State Pier tenants when the contracts expire in 2013.

Section 6 – Expanded wheelchair accessibility for taxicabs

The Department has received numerous comments about the lack of taxi service for people with disabilities, and more specifically, people using wheelchairs. The taxi companies will be able to provide service in a wider range of state funded programs for people with disabilities that the currently cannot serve. This could be a significant source of new revenue. The Department proposes to 'incentivise' this program by allowing one additional accessible taxi vehicle without hearing for every five existing vehicles on the permit.

Section 7 - DOT notification of improper gates, signals and markings at railroad crossings

The DOT would be required, instead of an operating railroad company, to annually notify the appropriate municipality or property owner to inspect and correct any malfunctioning gates or signals and pavement markings at certain railroad crossings. This would expedite notification to the appropriate owner to annually inspect railroad crossings.

Section 8 – Evaluation and Inspection of Air Quality for State Buildings

This proposal exempts DOT leased or owned buildings that are not used for office space from provisions passed last session to develop indoor air quality protocols. Currently, indoor air quality checks have to be performed on DOT owned properties, even though the tenant is responsible, per the lease agreement, for general maintenance of the mechanical systems.

Section 9 – Penalties for Taxicabs

This proposal would bring civil penalties for taxicabs from $100/day to $1,000/day, consistent with civil penalties for livery violations of Chapter 244a.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

None

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Metro Taxi opposes sections 6 and 9 of this bill. The ridership statistics and the economics do not support this proposal to mandate that every taxicab company in the State with a fleet of five or more taxicabs be required to convert 20% of its fleet to accessible taxicab vehicles. In most American cities, the demand for accessible taxicab use is miniscule, and normally equals less than .05% of all trips. The net result is that for every wheelchair accessible taxicab placed in the fleet, the taxicab company will louse thousands of dollars per year. There are ample less costly alternatives available now to the handicapped population. As to section 9, the taxicab industry does not feel than a tenfold increase in the amount of fines is warranted. They have been having ongoing conversations with the numerous departments that regulate the industry about how to better hold drivers and companies accountable.

The Arc Connecticut, a statewide advocacy organization for individuals with intellectual disabilities, opposes section six of this bill. Clearly, Arc would support any proposal that makes the lives of person with disabilities easier and more inclusive. However, section six, as it is written, does not take into consideration the safety of persons with disabilities who need to be properly secured when being transported. Arc does not believe a taxicab driver would be purposely negligent or harmful, but providing such a service also comes with the responsibility of car, which this industry is not equipped to provide. Arc urges the Committee to oppose section six until it can truly address all aspects of transporting individuals with disabilities safely.

AT&T Connecticut strongly opposes section one of this bill and urges the Committee to reject it. Currently, public service companies receive reimbursement at a minimum rate of 50% when asked to relocate their facilities to accommodate the needs of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Typically, that reimbursement is at the 50% level. For facilities in the right-of-way along federal highways, the rate is 100%. This bill would set the ceiling at 50% and removing the requirement that the state's reimbursement be equitable. AT&T does more than its fair share today with respect to covering half the costs of relocations ordered by the DOT. It is common practice today and accepted operating procedure that the entity requiring a facility move be required to pay for all the costs of that move. The DOT should not be allowed to further erode the State's contribution for work ordered by the DOT.

Reported by: Jermaine Matheson

Date: 3/20/08