HARTFORD (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is putting off $4.3 billion in transportation projects until state lawmakers approve more money for them.
The governor said the capital projects, numbering nearly 400, will be postponed indefinitely over the next five years. He called on the General Assembly to immediately appropriate money to the state’s Special Transportation Fund, which finances transportation projects. He said the fund would be in deficit by July.
Much of the work is for improvements on Interstate 95, including widening of the highway from Bridgeport to Stamford; engineering work for the stretch from the Baldwin Bridge in Old Saybrook to the Gold Star bridge in New London; and $60 million of safety improvements from the Mystic River Bridge to the border with Rhode Island.
Also postponed would be funding to replace the Whitford Brook bridge in Old Mystic, which has been closed since the flood in 2010, and Wyassup Brook bridge replacement in North Stonington. And the Department of Transportation has said it may need to cut service on the Shoreline East rail line.
“If we want to compete in the 21st-century economy, we need a transportation system that works for people and businesses, and we need to invest in transit-oriented development to build the communities where people and businesses want to be,” Malloy said Wednesday, adding that the problem requires immediate action. “The legislature must act this year to avoid potentially devastating setbacks to our transportation system.”
At his press conference, the governor declined to say if he would recommend tolls when he presents his next budget to the legislature on Feb. 7. The Special Transportation Fund holds about $1.5 billion this fiscal year. The administration said it could be insolvent in 2020.
Meanwhile, the growth in gas tax revenue has slowed while debt costs on transportation projects are expected to grow by 73 percent over the near five years as the state has worked to repair its aging transportation infrastructure.
Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Len Fasano blamed Malloy and Democratic lawmakers for the transportation fund deficit, saying they took $164 million from it to balance state budgets.
“Now, Governor Malloy and Democrats are trying to use the problem they created to force the Legislature to approve new taxes and more burdens on commuters. That has been their game plan all along,” Fasano asserted.
Malloy said deficits for the transportation fund could soon climb into hundreds of millions of dollars without legislative action. Projects that are essential to public safety or that have major federal funding will continue as planned, the governor said.
This article includes reporting from The CT Mirror.