FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton, Norwalk, Westport) and Rep. Jonathan P. Steinberg (D-Westport) recently led a bipartisan Regional Transportation Caucus press conference in the Capitol regarding the transportation in Southwestern Connecticut.
Republican and Democratic House and Senate members joined in pledging support for immediate improvements for Fairfield County’s highways, bridges and rail lines.
Lavielle expressed her optimism about the level of support on both sides of the political aisle from fellow legislators, and stated that the time for making infrastructure improvements is now.
“Transportation is essential to our economy, our ability to move people and goods, our property values, and our quality of life. In many ways, it determines the fate of Connecticut as a state."
Steinberg also expressed optimism, especially in light of the governor’s recent pledge of support for state infrastructure upgrades, and emphasized that Connecticut needs a plan sooner rather than later.
“The New Haven to Hartford rail line and enhancements to our branch lines will bring greater economic activity across the state, but these projects will never realize their potential unless we swiftly address the dire situation on the main line," he said. "A state-of-the-art transportation system will not succeed unless we buckle down to find the means to fix our deteriorating bridges, guarantee the safety and reliability of our transit and acknowledge that the economic engine of the state demands a singular commitment."
Lavielle said the poor condition of Fairfield’s transportation infrastructure is surprising considering how the region’s vitality is so critical to Connecticut’s economy.
“We have 125,000-150,000 cars traveling every day on a major interstate artery that is constructed more like a post road with exits every couple of miles,” she said. “Our commuter railroad and its branch lines provide 39 million passenger rides a year. But it’s unreliable, slow, not altogether safe, and falls under a performance contract with its operator that contains zero performance standards.”
The Connecticut Regional Plan Association has estimated that repairs would cost $3.6 billion. Rep. Dave Rutigliano (R-Trumbull), who also serves on the subcommittee, expressed his concerns about Connecticut’s outdated infrastructure.
“These needs have to be immediately addressed," he said. "If we want the health of the state’s economy to continue improving, fixing our roads and bridges to help our workers and commuters is clear path to help us get there,” he said.
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