Connecticut Borrowing for Road Expansion Like There’s No Tomorrow

Connecticut has elected to spend up to $500 million adding two lanes to I-84 over a three-mile stretch in Waterbury. Image: ## Transportation Campaign##

Looks like Connecticut still has’t extricated itself from the “growth ponzi scheme” — you know, gambling on a few road widenings while the bulk of its existing assets slide into disrepair.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Connecticut recently approved a $537 million spending package for transportation. And while the spending plan includes some good items for transit, the state has decided to spend a very large share of it widening a single road.

Among the projects approved is a plan to widen three miles of I-84 at a total cost of up to $500 million, or $167 million a mile. State leaders expect federal matching funds to cover 80 percent of that. But even federal matching dollars aren’t unlimited.

“To put this in perspective, Connecticut receives just $486 million a year in federal funds for all road and bridge projects,” said Tri-State’s Steven Higashide.

Higashide notes that a USA Today report recently highlighted the sorry state of Connecticut’s existing roads. The state had the second-highest percentage of roads rated in “poor” condition. Meanwhile, 35 percent of Connecticut’s bridges are considered structurally deficient.

“Committing to another pricey road widening means less funding available for maintenance, and slower going ahead,” Tri-State’s Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool said. “Furthermore, decades of experience in Connecticut and across the country have shown that highway expansion leads to sprawl development, which increases traffic and quickly re-congests the road.”

6 thoughts on Connecticut Borrowing for Road Expansion Like There’s No Tomorrow

  1. Couple things:

    1 – It’s I-84, not I-85 (fix the graphic caption, please!).

    2 – That area is pretty built up already (along I-84). I don’t know where it would sprawl much more. The extra lanes will probably take it from “pretty bad” to “tolerable.” I agree it’s crazy expensive and there are probably several better alternatives, but I don’t buy the sprawl argument in this particular instance.

  2. The economic engine of Connecticut is Fairfield County. Our roads (I-95) are horrible, we need more trains, more intercity and intracity public transport and route 7 needs to connect to Danbury.

  3. How on earth can they spend $500 million on a short, relatively simple suburban highway project? For a few million more, the Connecticut DOT could almost pave the highway in solid gold!

  4. Because contractors have become expert at milking municipalities for every dime with projects like this. The US habitually spends 2 to 10 times as much as other countries do for infrastructure.

  5. Matt is pretty on the mark.

    Unfortunately, Ms. Vanterpool’s knee-jerk reaction betrays her rigid agenda and what is probably a complete lack of knowledge about this stretch of highway.

    Beyond the incompetence of the last twenty years’ worth of governors, this chunk of highway has been left in disrepair, in part, because it is ultimately at least a billion dollars to fix it completely.

    It is becoming a bottleneck comparable to I-95, which is choking off growth beyond Danbury. It should have been done twenty years ago – everybody knew it needed to be addressed even then.

    Another billion dollar nightmare bearing down on us is the Hartford interchange. Awfully expensive and should have been done years ago, too.

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