Governor Dannel Malloy revealed a 30-year $100 billion transportation plan Wednesday, preluding his annual budget presentation to the General Assembly later today, according to The Hartford Courant.
Malloy will release a $10 billion buildup for the next five years, the Courant reported, to get several transportation projects started. These projects, however, are focused primarily on design rather than construction.
The proposed projects reported in the Courant include a $100 million allocation for bike trails, an extension of the CTFastrak busway from Hartford to Manchester, and a potential third tube for the West Rock Tunnel on the Merritt Parkway to be used when the original tubes are being repaired.
Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Keith Phaneuf, state budget reporter for The Connecticut Mirror, said the main issue with the transportation plan is funding.
"I do expect that the transportation plan will draw a lot of attention. We're not going to, however, see a plan to pay for it," Phaneuf said.
Phaneuf said taxpayers won’t have to start paying for the transportation plan in “big numbers” until 2019 or 2020, which will spark controversy at the beginning of the next governor’s term.
“Are we really committing to a plan, or are we laying out a vision?” Phaneuf asked.
Also speaking on Where We Live, former Republican lawmaker and Courant columnist Kevin Rennie said trying to predict changes in transportation methods for the next 30 years is a “fool’s errand.”
“There’s a difference between the next two years and the next thirty years…There are dramatic changes in technology of automobiles that ought to be considered,” Rennie said.
WNPR's Colin McEnroe pointed out during the show that Malloy’s proposals give heavier funding to mass transit, particularly commuter rail, than to road projects.
Rennie said there are issues deeper than how funding is distributed across projects.
“The problem with mass transit becomes the expense of maintaining and operating it once it’s built,” Rennie said.
Rennie also said transportation projects will have to shift their focus as commuter work habits change.
“A huge cultural change in America is the number of people who are working from home who used to commute into Hartford, let’s say 30 years ago, has changed dramatically,” Rennie said. “This has to be part of calculations. I don’t see more people working in offices 30 years from now, I see more people working from home.”
Malloy is expected to deliver further details on his transportation initiative later today during his budget address. You can watch CT-N's coverage of Malloy’s budget address and listen to WNPR’s analysis during a special edition of Where We Live tonight at 7:00 pm.
Ryan King is an intern at WNPR.