Connecticut's transportation package near passage

| Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A bill on its way to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s desk is being lauded by Connecticut state lawmakers as a major step toward addressing the state’s traffic problems.

The Senate voted unanimously May 1 to approve a 10-year, $2.3 billion transportation package that would pay for mass-transit projects without requiring tolls or increasing the state’s fuel tax. The House voted 143-4 late last month to approve it.

The bill – HB5844 – also would include some money to study highway projects. Those projects include the completion of the engineering and design phase of widening Interstate 84 between Waterbury and Danbury, as well as environmental planning and assessment for the expansion of Interstate 95 between Branford and the Rhode Island line.

In addition, it would require Connecticut officials to start formal discussions with Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island on ways to enhance freight and regional commuter mobility.

The legislation is the second step in a major plan to improve the state’s transportation system, The Associated Press reported. A year ago, lawmakers approved a 10-year, $1.3 billion initiative for roads and rail.

About $1 billion of this year’s package would be bonded, The AP reported. The rest of the money would come from the federal government and a gross receipts tax on motor fuels, which now go into the state’s general fund.

Gov. Rell is expected to sign the bill into law.

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