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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

As Transit Funds Grow Shorter, Tolls Talk Grows Louder

By Neena Satija

www.ctmirror.org

Transportation advocates and officials across Connecticut gathered in the State Capitol today to face a sobering fact: In an age of soaring deficits on both the state and national levels, the funds available for transit improvements are shrinking fast.

Funding on the federal level remains uncertain not only because of the slow negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” but also because a highway trust fund is nearly broke. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s own deficit seems to rise daily—it is now estimated at around $400 million for this fiscal year—prompting budget cuts to a variety of different state agencies.

“In two years, our federal [funding situation] could be a disaster,” said Jim Redeker, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation. “There’s a real sense that we have to look very quickly at what the options are.”

Like many other states, Connecticut is left with major transportation projects that have little or no source of funding at the moment—including a badly needed overhaul of the Aetna Viaduct, a three-quarter-mile elevated stretch of Interstate 84 over Hartford, and the modernization of Metro-North’s New Haven rail line, which carries upwards of 38 million passengers between Connecticut and Manhattan each year.

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