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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Westport First Selectwoman Urges Lieberman to Boost Highway Spending

Two days after campaigning for him in New Hampshire, Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell has urged Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman to take time from his presidential aspirations to boost federal highway spending in the state.

Farrell, as chairwoman of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, sent a letter to Lieberman Tuesday urging him to fight for more funding under a proposed spending bill.

Farrell was in New Hampshire Sunday campaigning for Lieberman in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. He came in fifth.

Under the proposed $311 billion highway spending bill, Connecticut, compared to other states, would get the lowest increase over the last transportation bill. Connecticut’s funding increase would be just 10 percent.

Other New England states would see their funding increase by about 20 percent or more under the current proposed formula.

“Of particular concern to the chief elected officials of the southwestern region is the fact that in the bill’s present form, Connecticut will receive the least amount of funding and is considered to be the ‘biggest loser’ of all the states,” wrote Farrell.

“Many of our transportation projects—critical to the continued improvement of the state’s transportation infrastructure—are in jeopardy. Our citizens’ safety, economic vitality and quality of life depend on sustained funding provided by federal transportation funding programs.”

Farrell said members of the planning group are prepared to do whatever Lieberman thinks is necessary to get more funding for Connecticut in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Reauthorization Bill.

Lieberman is a member of the committee. His office Wednesday said he received Farrell’s letter and has contacted Sen. Christopher Dodd and the state’s five House members to begin organizing a strategy for increasing Connecticut funding, The Advocate of Stamford reported.

“These highway funding levels are disappointing—but not surprising,” Lieberman said Wednesday in a statement.

“Historically, Connecticut has done better than expected, but with shifts in population and shifts in control of key Senate committees to Sun Belt states, those states are asserting their interests in the funding formula.

“We’ve succeeded in defeating an earlier plan to cut Connecticut’s highway funding by 18 percent. But this fight is far from over, and working with the state and regional delegations, I am committed to increase our share and secure the transportation funding Connecticut deserves.”

The Senate plans to take up the bill early next month. Lieberman’s office said the bill likely will see action in at least two other committees before it is voted on, and the process could take several months, The Advocate reported.

The House has not acted on the legislation.

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Posted 01/29/04 at 11:49 AM  Permalink



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