FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Connecticut needs to focus on the future of its transportation systems, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in his State of the State Address given on the first day of the 2015 legislative session Wednesday.
But he never mentioned tolls during the speech and did not say how a long list of improvements would be paid for.
Before giving the speech, Malloy was sworn in for his second term as governor along with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and members of the 2015 General Assembly.
During his State of the State Address given before a joint session, the Stamford native briefly highlighted some of his accomplishments from the past four years. But his main topic was transportation, where he said Connecticut has fallen short over the past two generations.
“We need to change the ways we commute, the ways our businesses move their products, and the ways we get around our cities and towns,” Malloy said. "It is time for Connecticut to establish a collective vision for the next 30 years. A vision for a best-in-class transportation system.”
He said he wants an open and honest conversation in the legislature this year about transportation. Malloy hopes that in 30 years, as a result of actions begun this year, Connecticut:
- will have the safest highways and railways in the nation,
- will have shorter commutes for residents,
- will attract new businesses because of the quality of the transportation infrastructure,
- will encourage residents to stay here,
- will have three deep-water ports,
- will be home to an international airport, and
- will be crisscrossed with bicycle and pedestrian paths that will make towns and cities more sustainable and livable.
“These are lofty goals. They might seem unattainable to some,” Malloy said. “I say we can’t afford not to do it. Together, we should refuse to give in to the cynics and the naysayers. This is the Connecticut we must strive for.”
He said he plans to go to the legislature with more detailed plans on accomplishing these goals but offered some ideas on how to start. Efforts must be comprehensive in size and scope, including widening I-95 statewide and fixing exit and entrance ramps, he said.
Connecticut should build new rail stations and upgrade branch lines, and create a statewide bus service with real-time updates that riders can get on their smartphones, Malloy said.
“The bottom line is that we need to improve transportation of all kinds, in towns of all sizes, across all of our state,” he said.
He also proposed that the state create a secure transportation lock box “that will ensure every single dollar raised for transportation is spent on transportation, now and in the future. No gimmicks. No diversions.”
He said he would immediately sign any legislation that creates a secure lock box, and that until that was created he would veto any attempt to create new sources of revenue for transportation.
Malloy said the budget he presents to the legislature next month will include the first steps toward funding long-term transportation goals. He said that, as cars become more efficient, gas taxes will soon not be able to cover current transportation investments, let alone ones needed to be made in the future.
The address was met with praise from business and transportation leaders in the state.
“Adequate, reliable funding for our multimodal transportation capacity and performance is essential to Connecticut’s economic future," said Christopher Bruhl, president and CEO of the Business Council of Fairfield County. "The Business Council of Fairfield County strongly supports the governor’s key points: disciplined commitment of funds, greater investment, and utilization of alternative revenue sources that reflect longer term trends in consumer behavior, technology and climate.”
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