Gov. Malloy: Widening state’s highways will benefit CT economy

(Image: CT DOT)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that a new analysis conducted by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) shows significant economic benefits to the state’s economy by widening Connecticut’s interstate highways, according to a release by the governor’s office.

Malloy states that by adding travel lanes in both directions on I-95 border-to-border from Greenwich to North Stonington, as well as on I-84 between Waterbury and Danbury, Connecticut will see economic benefits of nearly $40 billion – about four times the cost of both projects.

The highway widenings are just two projects within the Governor’s 30-year transportation vision – “Let’s Go CT!” – which includes additional rail, buses, and even walkway and bikeway improvements.

“This is about long-term thinking, about delivering a down-payment on our future.  It’s not just about quality of life – our transportation system is directly tied to our state’s economic future and our ability to grow jobs. The DOT’s analysis demonstrates that by acting now, we will see dramatic benefits in the long-term.  ‘Let’s Go CT’ is a dramatic draw for businesses, both those currently in state and those considering coming to Connecticut,” Governor Malloy said.  “The economic benefits of upgrading our infrastructure come in the form of new business sales, new wage income to workers, and an increase in Connecticut’s gross state product.  We need to build a brighter economic future, and it starts with fixing our transportation now.”

The analysis found that both projects will benefit most sectors of the state’s economy, including the manufacturing, retail, and tourism industries.

According to the CTDOT, 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, according to CTDOT’s estimates, and support between 11,000 and 19,000 construction jobs over a 10-year ramp-up period.

The I-84 widening project between Danbury and Waterbury will produce $4.4 billion in new business sales, add $2.6 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $1.8 billion in new wage income to workers, the economic analysis concluded.  The total cost of the project is $1.5 billion and will support 4,000 construction jobs.

The analysis found that adding a lane in each direction border-to-border will save I-95 travelers well over 14 million hours of delays by the year 2040.  Likewise, the widening of I-84 will save travelers over 4.7 million hours of delays during the same period.

“These numbers prove that 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,” CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said.  “We really can’t afford to wait.  If we unite in this effort, we will create the right strategy for Connecticut’s transportation future – building today for tomorrow.”

“When we talk with companies about expanding in, or relocating to, our state, commuting time for employees and the ability to easily transport products and materials in and out of the state are some of the key considerations.  These have a direct impact on productivity, profitability, the ability to attract and retain talent, and overall competitiveness,” Department of Economic and Community Development Catherine Smith said.  “This analysis makes it clear that improving the state’s transportation network increases our economic competitiveness and simply makes life easier for businesses and residents.”

The governor’s office says the I-95 corridor is Connecticut’s most important transportation conduit of economic activity, as well as its most congested.  Daily traffic varies widely, but on average, the I-95 corridor accommodates over 135,000 vehicles daily, including over 18,000 trucks on portions of the corridor.  An estimated 80,000-plus drivers utilize the I-84 corridor.

The CTDOT assessment was done at the request of Governor Malloy’s Transportation Finance Panel, which is charged with recommending ways to finance the “Let’s Go CT!” transportation renewal and investment program.  CTDOT’s economic analysis of the “Let’s Go CT!” program will continue with reviews of selected rail and bridge replacement projects, and with an analysis of statewide bridge replacement and pavement preservation projects.

The study team considered a range of impacts in its assessment.  These include environmental impacts, safety impacts, improvements in access to markets for businesses and access to jobs for workers, improvements in logistics productivity, improvements in travel times and reliability and changes in vehicle operating costs.

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