Sure, it was sleazy of Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut Department of Transportation to release news of a proposed 5 percent fare hike on Metro-North on a Friday afternoon in July, hoping nobody would notice. But the more I dig into the proposal, the more I realize the governor and CDOT are not to blame. It’s the Connecticut legislature that’s really responsible for this fare hike.
Crawling along I-95 the other day in the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic, I snickered when I noticed the “Speed Limit 55” sign alongside the highway. I wish! Of course, when the highway is not jammed, speeds are more like 70 mph, with the legal limit, unfortunately, rarely being enforced. Which got me thinking: who sets speed limits on our highways and by what criteria?
The nearly decade-long struggle to replace the crumbling Stamford railroad station parking garage has taken another bizarre turn: the Connecticut Department of Transportation now wants to spend $1.5 million and take six months to repair the garage before they tear it down.
Today you can travel toll roads from Maine to Illinois to Virginia and use the same E-ZPass. And Connecticut drivers… get ready, as everyone admits that tolls are in our future. But even law-abiding E-ZPass holders should know that Big Brother may be watching them, miles from any toll lane. The NYC Dept of Transportation uses hundreds of E-ZPass readers in Manhattan, it says, to monitor the flow of traffic. Your E-ZPass could even let authorities determine if you were speeding as you pass between readers, though the NY Thruway insists that’s not in the plans and wouldn’t stand up in court. The choice is yours: pay cash, wait in long lines and remain anonymous… or get an E-ZPass, enjoy the discounts and speedy trips but leave a record of your travels.
Remember Gov. Dannel Malloy’s stealth proposal for a “Transit Corridor Development Authority,” described by some as “eminent domain on steroids?” Well, the initial idea to allow the state to acquire any land within a half-mile of train stations was modified, then killed in the legislature. And that’s not the only thing that got stuck recently.
As someone who has battled two decades for more spending on transportation, you’d think I would be happy with the state’s new biennial budget. But when you drill down into the details, there’s reason for concern. Gov. Dannel Malloy promised a down-payment on his $100 billion transportation dreams. And he did get one-half of one percent of the state sales tax repurposed for that… but it only pays down the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s enormous debt service.