Connecticut Must Leave Road Expansions in Rear-View

In advance of Connecticut’s 2010 gubernatorial election, Tri-State and several of Connecticut’s largest business, planning, and environmental groups called on the future governor to prioritize repair of existing roads and bridges, and support enhanced transportation options [pdf]. That call is worth repeating now that the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge—the state’s most prominent road expansion project—is set to open to traffic later this month. Now that the bridge is about to open, it should be the state’s last major road widening project.

The $1.25 billion “Q” Bridge project, a project inherited by both Governor Dannel Malloy and ConnDOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, includes a widened bridge and construction of new interchanges. The bridge expansion is by far the most expensive transportation project in the state. In fact, according to Tri-State’s analysis of ConnDOT’s 2010-13 spending plan [pdf], the project consumes 44% of all road and bridge spending in Connecticut, diverting much-needed resources to invest in Connecticut’s existing road and bridge infrastructure and transit systems.

Before the “Q” Bridge, this wasn’t always the case.

As recently as 2002, almost three-quarters of the state’s road and bridge dollars were spent on repair and maintenance. Now, while the state’s road and bridge conditions lag behind the nation’s average, fewer than half go to this purpose, negatively impacting the state’s economy and drivers’ wallets. Motorists in Connecticut pay an additional $313 per year in maintenance because of the state’s poor roads [pdf].