DOT Has The Answer To Our Transportation Woes!

Every so often — like cicadas, and Bushes running for president — someone floats this idea: Widen our highways.

This time, the Connecticut Post reports, the plan comes courtesy of the state Department of Transportation. Adding lanes to I-95 — all the way from Greenwich to Stonington — as well as I-84, would “produce economic benefits of nearly $40 billion — more than 3 times the cost of both projects combined.”

According to Governor Malloy, most sectors of the state’s economy — especially manufacturing, retail and tourism — would benefit.

A familiar Connecticut scene.

A familiar Connecticut scene.


The story notes:

Adding a lane in each direction on I-95 across southern Connecticut will produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, add $9 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers. The widening itself will cost $10.7 billion and support between 11,000 and 19,000 construction jobs over a 10-year ramp-up construction period….

“These numbers prove widening our interstates is the smart thing to do and demonstrate what we’d be losing if we don’t do it, in terms of our economy, jobs, and productivity,” James P. Redeker, commissioner of the transportation department, said. “We really can’t afford to wait.”

Sounds great!

I just have 2 questions:

  • Given the glacial pace of the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge construction project, would it really take just 10 years to “ramp-up”?
  • And, um, where exactly would we get this land in Westport to add a lane on each side?

(Hat tip: Billy Nistico)

31 responses to “DOT Has The Answer To Our Transportation Woes!

  1. Hugh F McCann JR

    What is the cost of lost productivity, lost family time from longer commuting time during construction and cost over runs?
    BTW: like the Bush dynasty do we need another Clinton dynasty ? Not sure the Bush mention was germane to the topic.

  2. The state of Connecticut is broke. With over $20 billion+ debt and &100billion in pension and OPEB liabilities, spending this kind of money and disrupting today’s commute would be a disaster for the state. And let’s not forget GE and other businesses moving out of Connecticut, because of high taxes.

    Instead of spending the money on a construction project that is suspect in regards to producing state growth, the Governotnshoukd reduce taxes and to make our state more competitive and help build a better atmosphere where companies would come to CT.

    Lots of companies are allowing workers to work from home. This highway project is a ‘pipe’ dream regarding economic growth. If we continue to have high taxes and an unfriendly business climate, more and more companies will be moving out of the state. How many people do you know who are talking about leaving?

    Governor Malloy is lost. As more and more companies leave the state due to his inability to control spending, coupled with his decisions to raise taxes and cut services, widening the highway is not the answer. Spending more money and taking on more debt with the debt agencies downgrading the states bonds, we are in a financial death spiral.

    Too bad it might take a Detroit type situation in CT to get his attention.

  3. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    Leave it to Gov Malloy to suggest a 1950s solution to congestion and traffic in building wider roadways. This folly would cause 2 decades of traffic backups on 95 and cripple traffic on Rt 1 and 136 though bordering towns like Westport. On top of that the loss of buffer would increase noise and the seizing of land from private and towns, through eminent domain, would trample land rights.
    Mass transit must be the answer in an area as costal CT that does not have excess land to flaunt, and that continues to attract people and business for it’s location and attributes. Fix metro north, subsidize the rails rather than taking costal land and wasting dollars on asphalt that will only increase pollution and traffic. Double deck the trains, improve the stations, improve the inter-town transportation to and from train stations. Gov Malloy think logically, think forward, think green, JUST THINK PLEASE

    • Bart Shuldman

      Chip-here are some facts to consider as we ponder the future of the state:

      Connecticut Long Term Financials Can Only Get Worse

      ➢Actual Pension Liability: $76 Billion+
      ➢Benefit Obligations-Teachers and OPEB: $22 Billion +
      ➢State Uses 8% Discount rate-Impossible
      ➢Underfunded Pensions and OPEB by almost 50%
      ➢Connecticut Debt: >$20 Billion and Still Borrowing
      ➢Debt Downgraded or Put On Watch-Paying Higher Interest Rate

      Next 10-15 Years
      ➢35% of Population will be 55 or older
      ➢Size of Workforce Shrinking-Less to Pay Tax Burden
      ➢Size of Population Not Working (65) = Working Population

      State Benefits Best in Nation
      ➢Connecticut Has Nations Most Generous Pension Plan (46,766 people)
      ➢Average Pension = $39,000
      ➢657 People Have Pensions Over $100,000
      ➢Top 10 Pensioners Average $230,000
      ➢Total Pension Payout = $1.585 Billion

      Where Are We Heading
      ➢>40%+ State Budget Today Going To Paying Pensions and Benefits
      ➢Tax Rate Just to Stay Even = 9.25%+ (Economic Forecast)

  4. My theory:
    Any extra carrying capacity will be quickly filled resulting in no discernible gain and actually result in more congestion,pollution
    and aggravation.

  5. The fact that we are essentially broke notwithstanding, I would suspect the soil along the present right of way is contaminated with lead from all the years before that ingredient was phased out of our fuel.

  6. they would get the land by condemnation and seizure, just like they did when
    they built the godamned thing to begin with.

  7. David Feliciano

    I had no idea of traffic congestion in Connecticut, until moving here 11 years ago. I grew to hate the “Turnpike” and the Merritt is a Bad Joke, during rush hour.
    Traveling throughout the country the last 7 years I came to find that this is not a local problem. It is a nationwide crisis and as such it should be addressed as such. Witness the 95 corridor in the nations, Capital, Florida throughout the urban areas, which make our commutes tame by comparison and is little better on weekends. Lets not forget the Los Angeles and The greater San Francisco regions. Wider lanes is a pipe dream or night terror.

    Double-decker highways. monorails operating near highway right of ways may be part of the solutions. The use of computer controlled switching, individual selections of stops could make this a time saver. Lets get a Disney Style peolpe mover concept going. Think big not band-aids.

  8. Is there any evidence/support for the idea that adding lanes mitigates congestion? This question is rhetorical; and Commissioner Redeker knows it. His expertise and experience is in transportation – not economics.

  9. Stack it, and make a deck going in the other direction. Over or under

  10. Deb Rosenfeld

    This folly made me think of the 50-lane highway in China that was clogged with traffic last weekend. The Chinese government added a checkpoint along the way causing the 50 lanes to cram into 20. So, widening I95 by one lane and adding toll booths?? Here’s a link to a photo from the other day

    Agree with posters above that we need to make CT more competitive for business by offering incentives to be here. Twenty or 25 years ago, the I90 corridor could have become a biotech hub. We lost to NY and MA despite the best intentions of Yale’s tech transfer group.

  11. Joesph Thanhauser

    $40 Billion . . . and if you like your doctor you can keep him. Period.

    Yuh. Right.

  12. Matthew Mandell

    In the meantime let’s guard our bridge on bridge street from this widening concept. If they want to widen 95, they might want to widen our bridge. Ideas move together…………

  13. Rather than spend billions widening I-95, I’d rather see CT DOT fund a shuttle service from Saugatuck to downtown (“Main to Train”). We now have half hourly train service on the main line during the day, but Saugatuck is a long way from shopping, the Library, Senior Center, Historical Society, Art Center, the Levitt, our great restaurants, Imperial lot, etc. A regular shuttle service would be very beneficial to all.

  14. Mary Ruggiero

    How about rush a hour HOV lane for those with passengers and maybe shuttles to NYC from various towns also able to use that lane? Just trying to think about alternate solutions. Widening either of our highways is a very unfunny joke.

    • Bart Shuldman

      This is a sad joke. GE is moving, done deal. Down in Stamford the major investment banks are moving out. Cheaper to be in NYC. And the rumor-GEnis moving to NY. To save money.

      If we look at just 5-7 years, when soemthing like this might be done, income taxes will be at least 9.25%. With Malloy and the leadership in Hartford continuing to give the nations best pension plan, income taxes will have to rise to pay the bills.

      So when Malloy thinks he needs more highway space, we might find traffic abating as more companies move out and jobs moving to states with a much friendlier business climate.

      You might want to read this study that just came out. You will be paying much higher taxes to support this:

    • Bart Shuldman

      We might be a few years away from diminishing traffic:

      Now the Morton’s is shuttered. The windows above it, where bankers used to sit, are cluttered with boxes and furniture in disarray. UBS is shrinking, and the remnants of the operation will move across the street to two empty floors of the RBS building, where there have also been huge cuts.

  15. The DOT appears to be a particularly pernicious and incompetent state agency. They are trying for a second time (at least) to remove the Cribari Bridge, they can’t seem to finish the North Avenue Bridge, and now they want to spend $billions the state does not have to undertake a project that will require long term disruptions, and, in all likelihood, the acquisition of private land through eminent domain.

    Of course we could do as some have suggested and reinstate tolls on the highways, and give the money raised to the DOT so they create more mischief as they spread pork on the roads. Hartford is the source of many bad ideas and is the home to blatant mismanagement of taxpayer funds.

    Expanding local public transportation is not a viable alternative. It will not satisfy Hartford’s demand for pork on a grand scale. Moreover, local public transportation in Westport has represented the triumph of ideology over economics and common sense. In the 37 years I have lived in Westport, the public transportation system has only remained in operation after being kept on life support with the infusion of copious amount of taxpayer funds. Of course, if you don’t pay taxes in Westport, you might not think the heavy subsidies are a problem.

    Finally, this project will create no jobs. It will in fact result in the transfer of jobs from the private sector to the public sector with at worst no net increase in jobs, and in all likelihood a net decrease. The project will be funded either by borrowing money from the private sector or taxing it away from the private sector (tolls?). In either case, resources would be transferred from the private sector to the public with no net increase in resources. Whose taxes will Malloy raise? Who will remain behind to pick up the tab for his folly?

  16. Bring back the tolls

  17. Michael Calise

    Most State projects cause two or three times projected cost. And most projected revenue falls significantly shorter than stated.

  18. Dick Lowenstein

    No, repeat no, American public transportation exists without some public funding. That includes our own bus system as well as MetroNorth and, if you want to get technical, air transportation. Either you accept that fact or you walk, stay home, or sit it traffic from sunrise to sunset. No, wait, you can bike. Any other modes?

    • So, people who take public transportation are subsidized with OPM. Doesn’t sound like an efficient allocation of scarce resources, it sounds more like a wealth transfer to a special interest group. If we can’t get a market clearing price, then maybe we should shut down the service. What is the cost of the subsidy per rider in Westport?

    • Bart Shuldman

      Dick. Looks like there is not a spending program you will not support. No wonder this state is in such financial mess-and add Westport (but I will have more in that later).

      Not only is this expansion program going to be a huge failure, but does anyone believe these numbers ($15.5 billion in new business sales…..)

      Adding a lane in each direction on I-95 across southern Connecticut will produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, add $9 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers. The widening itself will cost $10.7 billion and support between 11,000 and 19,000 construction jobs over a 10-year ramp-up construction period….

  19. Sharon Paulsen

    A Nightmare on Elm Street. (Or, I-95 corridor, take your pick).

    IMO, a highway/lane expansion plan, screams of a future of chaos, plus environmental and aesthetic devastation.

    All good comments here people – keep the topic alive and going – we certainly don’t want complacency when it comes to this one!

    This issue “travels” well beyond the 06880 border!

    Hat Tip to Deb Rosenfeld’s comment, b/c I also saw that article, and the image (the 50-lane jam-up in China – oh joy).

    And anyone, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought most people in China don’t even drive? Don’t many civilians use bicycles, due to restrictions on car use/ownership/costs/pollution issues, etc.? Or, am I mixing up my regional facts? (Not being snarky here – I’m simply not sure).

    But, if that IS the case, then what the heck? Why so MANY vehicles?? (Sniff – I’m confused by our world, LOL).

    (Thanks Dan for sharing this!)

  20. You need a station parking permit (or a mini-bus) to take a train. Good luck with that!

  21. If you speak with people in the transportation industry they will tell you that I-95 cannot be widened between Greenwich and New Haven because there is no land available; it is viable between New Haven and the RI line. Getting back to the Greenwich/New Haven stretch adding one lane is a “band aid” solution. The long term solution is to double deck I-95 for cars only.

  22. Interesting to note as well that the Connecticut cancer maps follow the main highways pretty directly. Not sure we need more emissions.