Hartford, CT – State Representative Whit Betts (R-Bristol) and State Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington) have proposed a bill that will require state funds meant for the controversial New Britain to Hartford busway instead be used for badly needed road and bridge repair in Connecticut. The lawmakers are also interested in making sureConnecticut workers are not forgotten.
“The administration has turned its back on the taxpayers. We remain committed to acting on behalf of our constituents and the countless people statewide that have resisted this project every step of the way,” said Rep. Betts.
Betts and Markley say the proposed bill is in response to the continued outpouring of public resistance to the 9 mile busway which will cost nearly $600 million or $1,000 an inch.
The project is irresponsible they said, considering the ongoing economic difficulty facingConnecticutand the poor condition of transportation infrastructure throughout the state.
In December the Associated Press reported that in 2010 the number of bridges in “poor” condition rose to 317. Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker acknowledged the poor condition of bridges inConnecticutis the agency’s “biggest challenge”.
“Hurricane Irene exposed many of the underlying transportation problems in Bristol, Plymouthand across Connecticut,” Rep. Betts said. “It doesn’t make sense to spend such an exorbitant amount of taxpayer money on a project that will benefit so few when there are such glaring problems that affect so many.”
Though the US Department of Transportation has recently awarded Connecticutwith $51 million in disaster aid as a result of Storm Irene and the October snow storm for road and bridge repair, Senator Markley says the principle remains the same.
“Throwing money at the busway is a waste of tax payer dollars. The grants awarded by the US Department of Transportation emergency relief program will help the Connecticut DOT take care of crumbling roads and bridges. But that still doesn’t take away the fact that more than ten times that amount of money – $600 million – is being wasted on a busway no one will use,” remarked Sen. Markley.
The lawmakers also point out the irony in that the first busway construction contract has been awarded to an out of state business. Sen. Markley said, “Not only is this Governor wasting everyone’s tax dollars, but he’s giving their jobs away too.”
Both, Sen. Markley and Rep. Betts added, “If we’re going to spend hundreds of millions on infrastructure, we’d like to seeConnecticut workers and businesses benefit, and we will work to craft legislation to do that.”
Betts and Markley say they will see the proposal through the committee process and hope a public hearing will be scheduled, so that citizens can voice their opinion to the legislature.