Connecticut governor’s budget emphasizes road safety

| 2/15/2008

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell unveiled her new budget that includes an emphasis on traffic enforcement on the state’s highways.

The governor is pursuing funds for traffic cameras to catch speeders along Interstate 95 in southeastern Connecticut. She wants money for a pilot program that would allow the state to take snapshots of speeding vehicles and mail the citations to their owners.

“To those who use this congested highway as their personal speedway – we’re going to see you and we’re going to stop you. And it will cost you,” she said in her State of the State address.

Talk about camera enforcement has peaked in the wake of an early November 2007 crash involving a tanker truck on I-95 in the Old Lyme/East Lyme area of the Connecticut Turnpike. The wreck shut a portion of the highway for hours. Three people died and others were seriously hurt.

Rell would also like to hire 100 state troopers during the next five years.

“Their sole focus would be to crack down on unsafe drivers,” she said.

Other recommendations in the governor’s proposed budget include a rule that would require truckers and other drivers to remove ice and snow from their vehicles before taking to roadways. She wants to use $700,000 to add 10 commercial motor vehicle inspectors with the Department of Motor Vehicles “to enhance truck inspections all around the state.” They also would target trucking operations with vehicles that have a history of failing safety inspections.

In addition, she wants to increase coverage of the Greenwich weigh station on I-95. Her plan is to add three weekend shifts every month. A new scale for the station would be included.

Rell also said she wants to add 42 inspectors for bridge maintenance to ensure inspections occur every two years. Her plan also calls for increased penalties for certain violations by teen drivers.

The Legislature will discuss the provisions of the budget during the regular session that runs into May.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Connecticut in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor