Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING INVESTMENTS IN CONNECTICUT'S TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
Section 1 grants the State Bond Commission the power to authorize the issuance of special tax obligation bonds in the amount of $795,050,000 provided $520,200,000 shall be effective July 1, 2016.
Section 2 specifies the list of projects under the Bureau of Engineering and Highway Operations and the Bureau of Public Transportation to which the proceeds of the sale of bonds will be authorized.
Section 3 states that none of these bonds may be authorized without the State Bond Commission finding that there has been filed with it a request for authorization and any capital development impact statement and any human services facility colocation statement filed with the Secretary of OPM.
Section 4 states that each request filed for an authorization of bonds shall identify the project for which the sale of the bonds is to be used and in addition include the recommendation of as to the extent to which private, federal, or other moneys should be added to the state's moneys available.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Governor Dannel Malloy, Governor, State of Connecticut – Governor Malloy supports this bill because he believes the Let's Go CT Transportation package is essential to the economic future of Connecticut and the ability to create and sustain jobs. He states that in the past, Connecticut has inadequately planned and underfunded its transportation infrastructure and that over the last four years the state has improved on this (e.g. increasing capital transportation spending by 65% and winning Federal DOT grant opportunities for projects like New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line), we need a “bold vision” instead of just keeping pace. The expanded capital program represents over $2.7 billion over the next five years above CT DOT's Current Services program to support projects listed in the Governor's testimony.
James Redeker, Commissioner, CT Department of Transportation – DOT provided a Powerpoint presentation for Let's Go CT which is available online under the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee page.
Benjamin Barnes, Secretary, Office of Policy and Management – OPM supports this bill and provides in their testimony a five-year allocation breakdown of the $2.7 billion of special tax obligation bonds as well as a list of the projects to be implemented. They note that many projects will require several years of engineering and design before aging infrastructure can be replaced, while others will “immediately enhance or economy and mobility”. They state that the proposal is “fully paid for in the Governor's budget proposal”.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Representative Gail Lavielle, 143rd Assembly District – Representative Lavielle supports the bill but states some concerns. She states that she is pleased to see improvements to Metro-North but is concerned that the electrification of the Danbury Branch Line, which provides 700-800,000 rides per year but whose riders are often late to work as a result of the trains suffering from constant breakdowns, is absent from the list. She states that improving this line and possibly extending it to New Milford could alleviate traffic congestion, reduce emissions, and cites projections of ridership increases and cost estimates. Next she addresses proposal 21C, which addresses the improvement of the Route 7/Route 15 interchange in Norwlak. 21C was indentified as have the least impact on neighborhoods, the environment, noise levels, and the “historic and aesthetic character” of the Merritt Parkway while providing the greatest benefits to traffic improvement and safety. She believes that any change to 21C could face significant resistance and that “language specifying the parameters of the 21C alternative” should be included if the item is to remain on the bill.
Daryl Finizio, Mayor, City of New London – The Mayor supports this bill, particularly the improvements to the Gold Star Highway, which is heavily used by commuters and is the main evacuation route in the event of a disaster. He also voices support for the investment of urban bike and pedestrian trails citing public health benefits and the reduction of traffic. He states that these paths would also benefit millennials who prefer cities where a car is not needed and the many residents of New London who cannot afford a car.
Chip Beckett, Chairman, Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) – CRCOG supports this bill, especially the extension of FasTrak east of the river which connects Hartford to New Britain and benefits employment opportunities in both areas. Utilizing CT FasTrak allows the region to strengthen traditional town centers and commercial districts economically while improving travel times and reducing road congestion.
Connecticut Construction Industries Assocations, Inc. (CCIA) – CCIA supports this bill, acknowledging the state's challenges in maintaining, rebuilding, and expanding its transportation systems under current federal funding. They state that these issues are becoming a hindrance on Connecticut's population and economy and that any delay in raising the funds for this project will only create a more expensive problem in the future.
The following people support this bill for the reasons stated above:
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
Paul Brady, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut
Leah Lopez Schmalz, Program Director, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Paul Tompanelli, President & CEO, Bridgeport Regional Business Council
Jeff Pugilese, Vice President, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce
Jack Condlin, Stamford Chamber
Matt Hallisey, Executive Director, Utility Contractor's Association of Connecticut
Khadija Abdul-Salaam, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
Tyler Archer, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Sarah Ganong, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Reverend Carleen Gerber, First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
John Humphries, CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
Michelle LeMere, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
David Sacco, Laborers International Union of North America Local #455
Mary Tomolonius, CACT
Don Shubert, CCIA
Lyle Wray, CRCOG
Amanda Kennedy, Regional Plan Association
Karen Burnska, Transit for CT
Joe Cutrufo, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Liam Brennan – Mr. Brennan is in support of this bill because he believes that “walkable and bikeable” communities help foster a sense of community, vibrancy, and healthy population. He states that on two separate occasions he was hit by a car in New Haven while on his bike, showing the need for safer transportation paths for bikers and walkers.
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director, Bike Walk CT – Bike Walk CT supports this bill because they believe biking and walking are cost effective in maintenance and reducing traffic congestion, as well as being good for our health and the environment. They believe many people would like to bike and walk, but don't feel safe without bike lanes and sidewalks.
The following people support this bill for the reasons stated above:
A. Sarah Hreha
Alyssa L. Israel
Anne Q. Indino
Brian A. Sheffer
Bill O'Neill, CT Greenways Council
Chris Schweitzer, Director, NHLSCP
Christopher D. Brown
Daniel S. Firestone
Daniel W. O'Neill
Debbie Lundgren, Chair, Bike & Pedestrian Alliance of Clinton
Dr. Jaen Andrews
J. Kevin Farmer
Jacob D. Robinson, Program Manager, Bikeport Co-op
Jennifer C. Kertanis, Director, Farmington Valley Health District
Jerome F Lusa
John P. Swift
Joseph D. Anastasio
Laura Baum, President, Bike Walk CT
Mary L Murphy
Michael Byron Nelson
Michael V. Ignatowicz
Stuart B. Popper
Margo Lynn Hablutzel
Michael R. Swift
Jennerifer Kertanis, Director, Farmington Valley Health District
Sara J. Frey
Linda Gilchrist, Barn Hill Studio
William B. Upholt, Hartford City Advisory Commission on the Environment
Neil Pade, Chair, CT Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Suzanne Bates, Policy Director, Yankee Institute for Public Policy – The Yankee Institute is in opposition to this bill because they believe that with our current level of indebtedness, we should only focus on improving existing infrastructure before embarking on new projects. Secondly, they believe we should focus on finding ways to “streamline current operations”, stating that our Connecticut averages seven times the national average on administrative costs per mile of highway. They believe that the governor should not be adding new positions to the DOT and that the department should reconfigure existing positions to meet future needs with its current level of personnel.
Reported by: Ben Dwyer