NEW: CTLCV Community Forums
Fri. April 27
7:30 - 9:00 AM
Westport Sunrise Rotary Club at Bobby Q's - 42 Main St.,
Westport, CT 06880
Mon. April 29
Rotary Club of Glastonbury at The Gallery, 141 New LondonTurnpike Glastonbury CT 06033
Tues. May 7
12:00 -1:30 PM
Westport Rotary Club
Westport CT (meeting location TBD)
Tues. June 4
Fairfield Green Drinks at Captain's Cove Seaport, 1 Bostwick Ave
Bridgeport CT 06605
CTLCV has launched a new series of Community Forums based on our citizens' guide to transportation "Getting Where You Want To Go" : Connecting and Preserving Our Communities With Better Transportation. These forums will provide an overview of the economic and environmental benefits of a balanced transportation system and offer you an opportunity to become engaged in the discussion about Connecticut's transportation system. For more information about the forums please visit our website. If you are interested in having a forum in your community please contact Kirsten Griebel at 860.236.5442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding CT's transportation system continues to be an overriding issue and given the expectation that federal funding will significantly decrease over the next few years, the state needs to develop new sources of revenue. Tolling, congestion pricing, gas tax, user fees and a lockbox for these revenues are all being discussed. In February, the Transportation Committee held a very informative presentation by national transportation experts on the most up-to-date creative applications of tolling as a source of revenue and as a means of managing congestion. You can watch the CT-N video of the information hearing here and the PowerPoint presentation is available on our Transportation Resources page.
With the 2013 legislative session in full swing, we have highlighted below some of the transportation related legislation that is still alive as well as some other good things that are happening around the state that will help move Connecticut in the right direction.
As always we'd like to hear from you. We welcome your feedback and news tips and hope you find this issue interesting and informative. For questions or feedback, please email email@example.com.
At The Capitol - Legislative Update
VULNERABLE USER BILL
SB 191, the Vulnerable User bill was passed unanimously by the Transportation Committee. This is a good step towards protecting people who choose to walk, ride a bike or horse, or otherwise travel outside of a motor vehicle on our streets. Providing safe streets for all users encourages people to consider other ways of getting around beyond jumping in their cars. We are hopeful that the bill will get to the floor of both chambers for a vote before the end of the session. Thanks to Senator Andrew Maynard and Senator Beth Bye for continuing their advocacy for this bill and we look forward to its passage in 2013.
HB 6051 requires the Commissioner of Transportation to conduct a study to analyze the use of electronic tolls, the ability to limit the use of any toll revenue for transportation purposes only, and the reduction of the gas tax once tolls are in place. This bill was passed by the Transportation Committee along party lines. Tolling still seems to be a hot button for many legislators and citizens. However, a recent Quinnipiac poll of CT voters, showed that there's a much higher level of support for tolls if all the tolls collected were put in a lockbox to be used only for transportation. That leads into the next two legislative proposals:
HB 6039 requires that moneys in the state's Special Transportation Fund be used only for transportation purposes and not be diverted to the general fund and HJ 63 is a proposed Constitutional amendment that says no moneys contained in the Special Transportation Fund shall be used or transferred for any expenditure or purpose not related to transportation. Both of these so-called "lockbox" bills were passed unanimously by the Transportation Committee.
While it is unlikely that these bills will be adopted this year, it is an indication of the bi-partisan support for dedicated sources of revenue to bring our state's aging transportation system into the 21st Century.
TRANSPORTATION AND ENERGY
HB 6360, the Governor's bill to implement the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES), was voted out of the Energy and Technology Committee. One positive aspect of the CES is that DEEP acknowledges the need to integrate the state's energy policies with transportation. While that is a good thing, the CES recommendations seem to be more heavily weighted to investing in electric vehicle and natural gas infrastructure as the way to decrease greenhouse gas emissions rather than emphasizing the need to reduce vehicle miles traveled by investing in public transit, bike and walk improvements and transit oriented development.
The complete report can be found at DEEP's website. Information on the Transportation Sector starts on page 162.
Bike Walk CT Annual Summit
Saturday April 27, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM EDT
Yale University, Linsly-Chittenden Hall
63 High Street, New Haven, CT 06511
The 2013 Bike Walk Summit will bring together people from all over Connecticut to talk about how to improve bicycling and walking in our state.
In response to criticisms that the Connecticut Department of Transportation is planning the $35 million Stamford Parking Garage replacement without adequate public representation, Governor Malloy announced the creation of a five-member advisory panel that will consist of commuters, residents, and businesses. While
financial bids and final proposals will remain confidential to safeguard the competitive process, the panel will be allowed to review sections of the developers’ proposals in order to weigh in on the pros and cons of potential projects.
The increased secrecy of development projects is one of the tradeoffs of using a less expensive public-private partnership (P3) to design and finance public projects. ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker says the involvement of the private sector is a shift in practice motivated by a shortage of funding for large infrastructure projects. Publi-private partnerships have been done successfully elsewhere and can relieve the state from some of the financial burden of designing and building the garage itself. The Rosslyn Ballston Corridor in Arlington, VA has had great success implementing P3's as highlighted in the new CTLCV transportation guide.
Commissioner Redeker ensures the advisory panel for the Stamford Parking Garage re-development was implemented as "a follow-up to our commitment to open up communication and make sure that customer interests come first." The details of how panel members are to be selected have not yet been determined.
Public comments on rebuilding the Stamford Parking Garage can be sent to DOT.Stamford.TOD@ct.gov.
In 2001, 50% of school children ages 6-12 were driven to school in a private vehicle, up from 15% in 1969. This shocking statistic has far reaching consequences, from increased traffic congestion to higher obesity rates in children. International Walk to School Day seeks to address this growing problem by highlighting the need for walkable communities and getting kids excited about walking to school. This year’s event will be held next Wednesday, October 3. Last year, participation in this event reached a record high, with over 4,000 events registered nationwide. Inspiring kids to walk to school helps create a cleaner environment, gathers support for safe pedestrian infrastructure, encourages healthy physical activity, improves community spirit, and adds a necessary dose of fun to the life of a child.
Read more about International Walk to School Day here.
Safe Routes to School is another initiative dedicated to promoting bicycling and walking to school. The program helps to increase the safety, convenience, and fun of biking and walking to school by providing infrastructure grants, training activities and technical advice to communities. Implementation of Safe Routes programs is an integral component of CTLCV’s policy recommendation to “make walking and biking easier and safer with low-cost and small-scale improvements.” Creating safer, more walkable communities through bicycle and pedestrian friendly roads will revitalize Connecticut, just as it has done in Portland, Minneapolis, and Pittsburg. However achieving this will require a shift from the reliance of cars in our culture. Teaching children to rely on their own physical abilities instead (and providing the infrastructural resources to do so) is the first step in making this change.
Learn more about Safe Routes to School here.
Did you know? For every 100 students who walk or bike to school we can reduce CO2 emissions by 32,976 pounds and save 1,674 gallons of gasoline a year.
Last week's public hearing about Connecticut's state rail plan demonstrated the pressing need for investment in rail as part of the state's public transportation system. ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker stressed the importance of a practical and prioritized rail plan. He stated that a long term rail plan is critical for future development, and is required by the Federal Railroad Administration for funding purposes. ConnDOT's plan highlights the need for investment in infrastructure for both passenger and freight rail, with a focus on maintaining and updating the existing lines. The full plan can be accessed here.
Rail issues continued to be front and center the next day with a public hearing on the re-development of the Stamford Parking Garage adjacent to the train station. One piece of the current parking garage is in poor condition and needs to be re-built. The DOT is turning to private developers for a solution that involves reconstruction of the garage and transforming it into a transit-oriented development. Some commuters are concerned that moving a portion of the parking to a spot a quarter a mile away will create an unfair burden on those drivers. But, if done correctly, this project could encourage more people to walk or bike to the train station by building a mix of office, residential and retail next to the train station. Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Regional Plan Association, and the Business Council of Fairfield County released a statement regarding the Stamford Parking Garage that supports the DOT’s proposal in theory, but urges them to “seek diverse stakeholder input on the project moving forward.” See the entire press release here.
The public discussion of planning for a state rail system and promoting mixed-use development within walking distance of transit stations, reinforces two policy recommendations in the recently released CTLCV Transportation Guide: support of transit-oriented development and investment in rail.
An up to date rail plan with set priorities will aid the construction of a coordinated and effective transportation network that guides development in the areas where it is most appropriate. When asked how the state rail plan determines which locations will be made priorities, Commissioner Redeker responded that ConnDOT's plan calls for investment in places where the forecasted density of development can be best served by transit. This in turn will promote economic development in these areas while preserving natural resources and limiting the environmental impact. On the long term, smart investments in rail will result in a cost effective, efficient alternative choice of transportation that will have positive benefits for Connecticut.
Now available to read or download the pdf online a www.conservationeducation.org
Connecticut’s transportation system costs us all; both economically and environmentally. CTLCV’s new transportation guide, Getting Where You Want to Go, points out just how costly it will be if we don’t invest in a 21st Century transportation system that encourages public transit, bicycling and walking. Dependence on single passenger cars results in more highways being built and more pollution to our air and water. Add to that the financial cost of owning a car, buying gas, and maintaining roads and bridges - we simply cannot afford to do nothing.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. The wealth of information in the transportation guide suggests that we do not have to choose between a sustainable and economical transportation system. The benefits of revamping Connecticut’s transportation system range from land preservation to job creation. The healthcare cost of high rates of asthma and obesity will decline as people begin to walk more and drive less. Seniors and disabled persons will no longer face isolation due to lack of access to transportation. Just as the costs of inefficient transportation impact everyone, the benefits of an efficient system will be felt by all.
Success stories from other states illustrate that this is possible and Connecticut has already begun to make progress by investing in the state’s first bus rapid transit system, planning development within walking distance of train stations, and making streets safer for bicyclists. Continuing along this path will lead Connecticut to economic growth, lower healthcare costs, and protection of our valuable natural resources. Making improved transportation a priority will ensure that we continue to reap these benefits.
Did You Know? For every $10 million of capital investment in public transportation there is a return of up to $30 million in business sales alone according to the American Public Transportation Association.
The Sierra Club ranked UConn 5th among “Cool Schools” for environmental efforts. The nod to the school’s commitment to sustainability highlighted the school’s recycling program among other sustainability goals. There is something else, however, that Connecticut can learn from the school: inter-modal transportation. The school boasts a bike share program, where students can borrow bikes, and helmets, at the library. The school is also looking to Albert Ludwig University, a very bike friendly community in Germany, for inspiration on the roles of bicycles in a college town. Finally, Mansfield, home of UConn, is developing a pedestrian and bicyclist friendly Storrs Town Center, that includes a brand new inter-modal transportation building. For these reasons, the University is becoming a great example for Connecticut to emulate. As the town of Mansfield moves to accommodate walkers, bikers, and drivers, Connecticut can begin to take its cue and follow suit. Changing the mindset of drivers to be aware of bikers and pedestrians is a good start.
That is exactly what Beth Bye is trying to do. Senator Bye co-sponsored the Vulnerable Users bill, which would enhance penalties for drivers whose careless driving causes serious injury or death to cyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, or other vulnerable users of a public way. The bill asks drivers give deference to cyclists and walkers. The bill died on the Senate calendar, but is expected to appear in the 2013 Senate session. The Vulnerable Users bill would be a great way to start the transition to a commuter friendly state. Senator Bye, who often bikes to work or the store, wants drivers to know “Our roads are not just for cars.”
With the price of oil on the rise and drivers consistently face more congestion, perhaps it is time for Connecticut to look toward it’s “Cool School” as the example. Awareness of bikers, bussers, and walkers, making the roads more safe for everyone is a great way to start.
Columnist, Rick Green makes a good point in today’s Hartford Courant “Let’s Put Springfield-New Haven Train on Fast Track Before We Start Dreaming About Boston” regarding Amtrak’s proposal to build a new $151 billion high speed rail line by the year
2040, from D.C. to Boston that would travel inland through Connecticut. Green writes: “My problem is that we're already planning an expensive, and more practical, high-speed rail solution in the proposed upgrade for the New Haven-to-Springfield line. I'm not sure when Danbury and Waterbury surpassed New Haven and Stamford as vital transportation hubs, but before we talk new train lines we ought to improve what already exists.”
While a long term vision for a high speed rail line for the Northeast Corridor should be developed, CT cannot lose sight of the
immediate need for investing in our existing rail system. There is a critical economic and environmental need to improve the
over-stressed and aging, MetroNorth line and complete the work begun on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line.
A debate about investing in high speed rail for a 21stCentury transportation system needs to look at the long term vision but let’s make sure the conversation also considers the transportation needs facing Connecticut today.
For more information about Amtrak’s “Vision for Northeast Corridor – Update 2012” proposal for a new high speed rail system, please click here
Yesterday, a conference committee negotiated a final federal transportation bill just in time for the June 30th Congressional deadline. Our colleagues at Transportation for America performed an in-depth analysis and comparison of the expired transportation bill and the now pending bill and point out significant differences. Their analysis shows this new bill is a mixed-bag for transportation advocates and some aspects of the new bill pose potentially very harmful environmental impacts. The new transportation bill undermines and rolls back certain protections from both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Program (CMAQ). Both NEPA and CMAQ, provide critical regulations that protect our air, land and water. This is a wakeup call to Connecticut. We must remain vigilant to threats to our environment at the state level, such as roll backs to CT Environmental Policy Act (CEPA), as we can no longer depend on Congress to do so for us.
Continue reading to see today's complete joint press release by:
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Bike Walk Connecticut
Transit for Connecticut
Federal Transportation Bill a Disappointment for Connecticut
Bill maintains funding and avoids transit cuts, but rolls back safety and environmental protections
In response to the announcement of a conference committee deal to authorize the federal transportation program through September 2014, transportation advocates expressed disappointment at the bill's lack of reforms and at provisions that would make it harder for communities in Connecticut to provide input on major projects and improve street safety:
"While the bill allows the country to avoid a shutdown of transportation funding, it shuts down progress instead," said Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director. "It reduces funding for bike and pedestrian projects, rolls back environmental protections, and incentivizes new road building and driving. It's now up to local and state leaders to fight for a more accountable, environmentally sustainable transportation system."
The bill would make large portions of dedicated pedestrian and bicycle funding optional for states. Currently, less than 3% of federal transportation funding is dedicated for pedestrian and bicycle projects, and local communities rely on these small programs to improve safety and promote economic development.
"Scores of Connecticut residents are killed and many more injured while walking and cycling each year," said Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director of Bike Walk Connecticut. "With less help coming from Washington, ConnDOT must step up its commitment to safety."
The bill also appears to roll back environmental protections. It exempts more projects from the federal project review process and adds arbitrary deadlines that could lead to hasty, error-prone reviews.
"We're concerned that the bill could make it harder for local communities and residents to provide input on projects that affect their air, water, health, and property," said Kirsten Griebel, Transportation Program Director, CT League of
The Senate had crafted a forward-looking, bipartisan bill, MAP-21. Unfortunately, many positive reforms that had been included in MAP-21 were dropped from the final deal, including provisions to restore the transit commuter benefit to $240/month (it fell to $125/month at the beginning of the year), give transit agencies flexibility over how they spend their federal funds, and focus road and bridge funding on repair and maintenance.
The legislation avoids cuts to public transportation. It would provide new sources of funding for repair of transit systems, and help municipalities build around their rail and bus stations.
"It's a bitter disappointment that the commuter benefit won't be restored, though Connecticut thankfully avoids a cut to transit funding," said Transit for Connecticut Coordinator Karen Burnaska.
"Though the bill lacks significant reforms, it does avoid the most extreme cuts supported by some in the House," Tri-State Transportation Campaign Federal Advocate Steven Higashide said. "Connecticut's delegation helped defeat proposals to cut all dedicated funding for public transportation, walking, and cycling projects. We thank them for their hard work."
With the future expansion of commuter rails along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line, along with the CTfastrak busway between New Britain and Hartford, Connecticut is creating numerous opportunities for transit-oriented development in the next few years. Transit-oriented development (TOD) is essential, particularly to Connecticut, because it concentrates development in a transit corridor thereby limiting sprawl—low density, auto-dependent development on rural land. TOD reduces the use and need for cars, thereby reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and saving families money.
According to the Hartford Courant, Kip Bergstrom, deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, estimates that there is almost 1,000 acres of undeveloped land near train stations across Connecticut. This will not only create livelier, more prosperous cities but aid in promoting public rather than private transportation.
To read the entire editorial about crucial transit-oriented development in Connecticut, please click here.
The June 30th deadline for re-authorization of a federal transportation bill is rapidly approaching, leaving Congress scrambling to reach an agreement. June 30th is the last day money will be authorized to be taken from the Highway Trust Fund, which is the main source of federal transportation aid to states. Without approval of a transportation bill, Congress will be forced to enact a series of short term 90 day extensions.
If Congress doesn’t act by June 30th, how will this impact Connecticut? Projects that are already funded such as the Q Bridge, the Moses Wheeler Bridge, and the CTFastrak (New Britain-Hartford Busway) are not in any real danger. It is the future of Connecticut’s transportation projects that could be in jeopardy. As Judd Everhart, a spokesperson for the Connecticut DOT told The CT Mirror on June 8th ,“Our ability to plan for and design major projects [will be] severely impacted”.
Passage of a long term transportation bill has the potential to put thousands, if not millions, of construction workers back to
work. Congress is feeling the crunch as the June 30th deadline is right around the corner. Let’s hope that an agreement will be made before the deadline passes.
For further information, please click here.