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