Funding for 30-year transportation plan, clean water positions Connecticut for future success
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2015
Sarah Ganong, (203) 787 0646 ext. 128
New Haven, Conn.—Significant investments in transportation and clean water infrastructure in Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget position Connecticut for economic and environmental success now and in the future, according to Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound.
“Governor Malloy’s transportation vision is a big one that looks to Connecticut’s future and all the ways residents get around,” said Don Strait, president of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “The plan goes beyond patching problems to look at transportation in Connecticut as a unified network. CFE has always supported public transit that helps people get out of their cars—it cuts down on road congestion and keeps harmful pollutants out of our air. Residents are tired of sitting in traffic. Investing now in train and bus improvements across the state will make public transit a real option for more people. Carefully assessing long-term road capacity needs will make sure we’re building up our cities and helping Connecticut meet its climate goals. This plan is a step towards building the clean, healthy, vibrant Connecticut we want to live in.”
The $2.8 billion transportation program proposed in Governor Malloy’s budget includes funding for rail improvements like bridge repairs, station improvements, and capacity and speed upgrades, totaling $1.7 billion. The plan allocates $43 million to bus improvements statewide, and $101 million for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, such as designated trails. The governor also announced a new body charged with planning sustainable transportation funding over the next 30 years and reiterated his commitment to a “lockbox” to ensure transportation funding is not diverted for other purposes.
“We’re pleased to see strong commitments to bus and rail in this budget as well as an understanding of the long-term service and infrastructure funding challenges we face,” said Karen Burnaska, coordinator of the Transit for Connecticut coalition, of which CFE is a founding member. “Study after study has shown—and business leaders around the state know—that workers need reliable public transit to get to their jobs. Both young people and retirees want transit options that get them around our cities without the need for a car, and make travel to New York and Boston quick and easy. Upgrading the Hartford and Waterbury rail lines and extending CTfastrak are great starts in building a modern, interconnected transit system for Connecticut.”
As the main mechanism for funding Connecticut’s wastewater treatment and sewer projects, Connecticut’s Clean Water Fund is crucial to municipal infrastructure repairs and upgrades. For fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the budget proposes $378 million for Clean Water bonding in grants and low-interest loans to municipalities. The governor also recommended two new programs: $20 million in additional grants in 2016 for municipal projects to reduce stormwater runoff pollution, and another $20 million in 2016 to prepare for sea level rise by improving the resiliency of wastewater treatment plants and protecting coastal marshes and other natural landscapes that act as buffers.
“Governor Malloy’s administration has invested significantly in Connecticut’s clean water legacy throughout the years, and this budget continues to build toward that future of safe and healthy water for the state’s citizens and wildlife,” said Leah Lopez Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs at Save the Sound and co-chair of the Clean Water Investment Coalition. “As Long Island Sound suffocates under low levels of oxygen each summer, and as our state’s rivers and lakes continue to suffer unacceptable levels of raw sewage and stormwater pollution, we can breathe a little easier knowing that funding for the key projects that will help heal our waters is on the horizon. These investments will separate combined sewers, upgrade nitrogen and phosphorus treatment at wastewater treatment plants, stop stormwater pollution with innovative green infrastructure, and protect critical infrastructure from sea level rise. This funding will create thousands of engineering and construction jobs for Connecticut residents in the short-term—and cleaner waters that will improve our tourism and marine trades in the decades to come.”
Save the Sound is a steering committee member of the Clean Water Investment Coalition, which advocates for consistent clean water funding to protect critical jobs, vibrant local industries, and a clean and sewage-free Long Island Sound. The 23-member coalition includes environmental organizations, labor groups, regional water authorities, and marine trade organizations.