Category Archives: Transportation

Dwindling Federal Support May Spell Trouble For CT Repairs

by Categorized: Bridge Repairs, Roads, Transportation Date:

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BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Gridlock in Congress may pause repairs of Connecticut’s roads and bridges.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and federal Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx met for nearly an hour on Thursday to discuss the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund. The fund provides about 50 percent of the state’s transportation infrastructure costs and is set to run out in early August, Malloy said.

After the meeting, Malloy said that as many as 85 projects in the state could stall if Congress does not vote to appropriate more money to the fund. Almost as critical, he said that if the fund is not replenished by October, the state will not be able to bid for new projects, setting repairs back for an entire building season.

The prospects for the fund’s replenishment reflect the ongoing gridlock in Washington, D.C. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who attended the meeting with Foxx and Malloy, said that he has been speaking with Senate colleagues about the fund and is confident the upper chamber will at least approve a stopgap fix before August.

But Connecticut’s representatives in the House expressed frustration rather than optimism, explaining that some Republicans are trying to tie transportation funding to disparate issues like mail delivery and may be worried about honoring promises to not increase spending. With some exasperation, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, shook her head when asked about progress in the House. “I have nothing going on in the house. Nothing,” she said. DeLauro and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the matter was in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

If the money runs out, the government will continue counting receipts and will eventually reimburse the states, Foxx said. In the meantime, Malloy will simply have to prioritize some projects over others. He said Thursday that New Haven’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, which carries I-95 and has been under some form of construction for the better part of a decade, would be a top priority for continued state support if federal dollars were to dry up.

Also at Thursday’s meeting was Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. Sen. Chris Murphy, who has proposed hiking the gasoline tax by 12 cents, was in the Capitol for a morning press conference but was not at the meeting. Reps. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and John Larson, D-1st District,  also skipped.

Photo by Matthew Q. Clarida

Bill Creating Quasi-State Port Authority Becomes Law

by Categorized: Economy, Transportation Tagged: , , Date:

Officials in Connecticut’s three largest ports – New London, New Haven and Bridgeport – have complained for years that the state is overlooking the economic possibilities of developing our commercial harbors.

Gov. Dannel Malloy traveled to New London Monday to publicize his signing of a bill (which he actually signed last Friday) designed to eventually create a state-wide quasi-public port authority” to promote and improve all three ports.

Malloy said the new authority has made him “more confident than ever that Connecticut’s ports will be in a stronger position to attract more private investment and import and export business while also taking trucks off of our congested highways and driving job growth around the state.”

In fact, the new authority won’t actually come into existence for a while yet. For one thing, most of the legislation won’t take effect until October 2015.

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Road Safety Group to Conduct Connecticut Survey, Issue Scorecard on Local Bike, Pedestrian Programs

by Categorized: Transportation Tagged: , Date:

A federally funded effort to find out how Connecticut cities and towns are doing in making their roads safe for bicyclists and pedestrians is now under way and the results should be out this summer.

Bike Walk Connecticut is using $13,883 in federal money to conduct an online public opinion survey and get information on local municipal efforts to improve road safety for people who walk and bike.

Image courtesy of Bike Walk Connecticut

Image courtesy of Bike Walk Connecticut

Kelly Kennedy, executive director of the Bike Walk group, says the money is part of a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control to the state Department of Public Health.

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Connecticut Ranks In Middle of the Pack for Pedestrian Deaths

by Categorized: Transportation, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , Date:

The good news is that Connecticut has a better record for preventing pedestrian deaths than 26 other states, according to a national group working to promote safer roads and highways.

Unfortunately, that means our state is a long way from having the safest roads to walk in the U.S. That distinction, based on the rating system created by the National Complete Streets Coalition, belongs to Vermont.

Photo courtesy of National Complete Streets Coalition.

Photo courtesy of National Complete Streets Coalition.

Once again, the most dangerous state to walk is Florida. And you do NOT want to be wandering around on foot in the Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area, based on the coalition’s findings.

Between 2003 and 2012,Connecticut traffic accidents resulted in the deaths of 351 pedestrians, according to the coalition’s latest “Dangerous By Design” report. Those deaths represented 12.6 percent of all 2,780 traffic fatalities in this state during that period.

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Cameron Issues \’Commuter Manifesto\’

by Categorized: 2014 Election, MetroNorth, Transportation Date:

Our Commuter Comrade, Jim Cameron has issued a \”commuter manifesto\” blasting Metro-North and formed a \”commuter action group\” to turn up the volume on problems with the New Haven Line. He wants people to immediately report problems though his new group:

If there’s no heat on your train, report it. If it’s consistently late, report it. If the conductor is rude, report it. Every single time commuters see something wrong, now they can easily report it with detail and with pictures from their Smartphone. The railroad will have precise information to fix what’s wrong and should do it.

Cameron, who recently split with the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, explains how his group will work:

The Commuter Action Group will be the strongest possible advocate for commuters on Metro-North in Connecticut. We won’t have dues, and everyone can join. But we’ll make our voices heard every day.

The culture of incompetence and unaccountability at Metro-North has got to be reversed. Human error by railroad employees has resulted in deaths, yet nothing seems to change. The Con Ed power problem, the recent stranding of trains without heat on the coldest night of the year and last week’s complete shutdown because somebody ‘pulled a plug’ are all the result of mismanagement, not bad luck.

I’ve been riding Metro-North for almost 25 years and have never heard commuters this angry. Their frustration is more than justified because problems persist while all we get is lip-service from the railroad and Hartford. It’s time to hold them both accountable.

To make your complaints about Metro-North, Cameron has set up a web page. He has also set up accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

Dump Metro-North?

by Categorized: General Assembly, MetroNorth, Transportation Date:

That\’s what some Connecticut legislators are talking about in the wake of a year-long safety crisis on the country\’s busiest commuter line.

\”We owe it to the people of Connecticut to vet other vendors for our rail service,\” state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said at a hearing by the legislature\’s transportation committee.

\”Connecticut residents pay 65 percent of the costs associated with the functioning of Metro-North rail lines. Yet, recently service has deteriorated and this year the inaction of Metro North to not invest in safety improvements has sadly turned into multiple tragedies.\’\’

More from Don Stacom here.

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ConEd Says It Won\’t Cover Cost Of Shutdown

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal, Transportation Date:

At a Bridgeport hearing before U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal today, Consolidated Edison said it wasn\’t going to cover the cost of the commuter rail shutdown last month:

Utility President Craig Ivey also said it would be unfair to his customers to bear the expense of reimbursing Amtrak, Metro-North or others who lost revenue during days of shutdowns and reduced service.

\”It was your equipment that failed. So why should you not cover the cost?,\” Blumenthal said during an hours-long hearing in city hall\’s chambers.

\”Our employees were following documented, time-tested procedures. We have not seen this (before),\” Ivey said. \”I understand this was an absolute inconvenience to the folks of Connecticut and New York.\”

More from Don Stacom here.

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Why Is I-84 In Hartford So Congested?

by Categorized: Transportation Date:

As part of the looming massive I-84 Project, the state has answered a question that probably occurred to you just this morning. Why is this short stretch of highway so damned clogged every day? According to the state Department of Transportation:

The interstate and interchange layout was originally built in the 1960s to accommodate 50,000 vehicles per day.  Today, there are over 175,000 vehicles per day using this stretch of interstate.  The closely spaced interchanges, left-hand on- and off-ramps, short weave sections, narrow shoulders and poor interstate alignment all contribute to driver confusion and congestion.  The interstate layout, combined with the extremely high traffic volumes, can cause excessive traffic delays on the interstate and the city streets.

It\’s going to get worse before it gets better because the massive I-84 tear down and rebuild is coming. The good news is that figuring out exactly how to rebuild this stretch of road could take a decade.

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Governor Meets Press in Grand Central

by Categorized: Gov. Dannel Malloy, MetroNorth, Transportation Date:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will hold a press conference in Grand Centeral Station today. He will be holding the presser around the corner of the office of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is probably just a coincidence.

Malloy had this to say in a statement:

“Needless to say, I am frustrated at this situation and continue to press the folks at Con Ed and Metro-North to fix it as quickly as possible. But until the problems are alleviated, we need to take whatever steps we can to help mitigate congestion on roadways,” Governor Malloy said.  “Our state transportation crews have halted all routine road work in the area and are working to ensure that the expected increase in traffic moves safely and efficiently.”

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Train Platform In New Haven: A Bridge To Future?

by Categorized: MetroNorth, Transportation Date:

The federal government will pay for a new $10 million train platform at New Haven\’s State Street Station. The new platform is expected to make it easier for trains running on the planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line to enter and leave the station without delay.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the federal grant \”will enhance train service in New Haven and beyond, helping both commuters and businesses on a daily basis.\”

Although all funding for the proposed $600 million commuter rail line has not been secured, the state hopes to being running trains on the route by 2016. The Metro-North-style commuter line would extend for 62 miles and feature 16 trains per day.

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