The government is us and taxes and tolls are not theft

A triumph of the conservative movement was getting citizens to think of government as something separate and distinct from the citizenry. In reality, government is not a lurking entity waiting to tax us and give nothing in return. As Abraham Lincoln said, the government is of, by and for the people. The government is us.

Let Tesla sell their cars in Connecticut

Fourteen years after its founding, Tesla is on the cusp of achieving a significant milestone in its mission. The company will soon roll out the Model 3, a mass-market affordable electric car with a 200-mile range. The Model 3 has the potential to make automotive history, helping to usher in a revolution in electric vehicles. Sadly, Connecticut currently blocks Tesla from selling its cars in the state, posing a significant obstacle to achieving their mission. It is time for state lawmakers to right this wrong.

Redeker: The smartest guy in transportation

Jim Redeker has the best job in transportation. And the toughest. As Commissioner of Transportation for Connecticut for the past six years, he’s guided the agency through hundreds of millions of dollars in spending while managing three competing taskmasters: his boss, Gov. Dannel Malloy… the legislature, which controls his budget… and commuters / drivers who depend on his product. Redeker has successfully managed all three.

Never let a crisis go to waste

Last month, I’d have given Tesla an even chance at breaking into Connecticut’s new car market. The electric car maker has been trying for years, but has been blocked by the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association. The trade group opposes exceptions to the state’s franchise laws. Tesla has been making headway, but nothing seemed certain.

Then came The Big News.

Free parking isn’t really free

Our obsession with automobiles is not only creating gridlock and ruining the quality of our air, but it’s eating up our real estate and sending land costs upward. Because, once we drive our cars off the crowded highways, we assume it’s our constitutional right to find “free parking.” Why are Connecticut’s towns slaves to antiquated zoning mentalities that assume all humans come with four tires rather than two legs? Why do we waste precious land on often-empty parking spots instead of badly needed affordable housing?

Expanding I-95 is not the way to go

When 41 million hours of waiting and $860 million of lost earnings evaporate in the haze of I-95 traffic jams every year, we should be doing everything we can to make wise investments to relieve congestion and improve transit along the corridor. Although studies have shown highway expansion would not solve I-95 congestion, Gov. Dannel Malloy has made expansion of the I-95 part of his 30-year, $100 billion transportation plan “Let’s Go CT!”

Is Uber playing fair?

It looks like the fate of Uber (and Lyft, the other popular ride sharing service in Connecticut) will be decided in Hartford in a lobbying war, not in the competitive marketplace.

It’s time for tolls

Nobody likes the idea of paying tolls. But tolls are coming back to Connecticut and I just wish that lawmakers in Hartford would be honest with us about why. We are running out of money for the Special Transportation Fund, that’s why. And none of the re-funding alternatives are attractive: vehicle miles tax, sales tax, gas tax and yes, tolls. But tolls on our highways would not be a tax.

What Metro-North can learn from Amtrak

Enjoying a speedy (148 mph) ride to Boston recently on Acela, I started thinking about the differences between Amtrak and Metro-North. Both are railroads, but each has a different mission. Still, there are a few things Metro-North could learn from its national counterpart.

Who should pay for highway sound barriers?

Building and maintaining our highways is expensive. But here’s a quiz question: on interstates 95 and 84, what costs a half-million dollars a mile to construct? The answer: sound barriers. Why are we spending that kind of money to enshroud our interstates simply to protect the peace and quiet of their neighbors? Didn’t they know that living that close to a highway came with the twin costs of increased noise and air pollution along with the benefits of proximity to the highways?

A rail plan to grow the metropolitan Hartford region

The recent proposal by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to improve Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and the incoming President’s concern with the poor quality of American passenger railroads provide a major opportunity for the Metropolitan Hartford region and Connecticut as a whole to better connect to Boston and New York City, strengthening our position in the regional and world economy.