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Survey Finds That Condition of Roads & Rails Is Impacting Businesses

by Christine Stuart | Dec 16, 2013 1:46pm
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Business, Transportation

Courtesy of CBIA From highway gridlock that makes them late to meetings to an unreliable rail system, a survey of 651 business executives found that getting from one place to another in Connecticut is a big problem that has big consequences for the state’s economy.

The survey, which was conducted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Construction Industries Association, and Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, found that improvements to the state’s transportation system ranked third behind economic development and education, for desired state government spending priorities.

It also found that an estimated 74 percent support legislation that would prohibit the use of special transportation funds to cover general fund shortfalls, 72 percent said increases in the state’s gas and diesel taxes impacted their businesses, and 42 percent of companies surveyed say road congestion limits their market.

The survey is being described as the first major survey of statewide transportation issues. It was released last week at an event in Stamford.

“This survey proves that Connecticut’s future economic health is highly dependent upon an upgraded transportation system,” Michael Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association, said. “For too long, the highways and bridges of this state have been allowed to slip into disrepair. And, congestion now daily chokes the circulatory system which the business community needs for the safe and efficient movement of goods and people.”

On July 1, Connecticut’s petroleum gross receipts tax on gas increased about 4 cents per gallon and diesel fuel climbed about 3.7 cents per gallon. In total, the two increases in taxes were expected to bring in about $60 million a year.

But not all of the money will go toward improving roads. About $91 million in special transportation funds were swept into the general fund in the 2014-15 budget.

According to the survey about three-quarters of respondents said they wanted to make sure the special transportation fund was “off-limits.” About the same number also said recent hikes in the state’s gasoline and diesel taxes had a negative impact on their businesses.

The business executives said that highway delays impact meetings with customers, delivery times, and their ability to get to work. In some cases, it makes it difficult to find staff who are willing to suffer through a rough commute.

A whopping 88 percent of business executives who responded to the survey said businesses want better traffic movement on I-95.

Stamford Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Condlin noted that traffic volume on I-95 was more than three times the highway’s capacity of 50,000 daily vehicle trips.

Presently, there are 164,000 trips per day, which is 312 percent over capacity.

“It’s no wonder that this highway structure is among the state’s — and even the country’s — worst and most unsafe,” Condlin said.

Forty-two percent of companies surveyed say road congestion limits their market; 64 percent believe better transportation options would increase their ability to attract and maintain a quality workforce; and 15 percent considered relocating their businesses because of regional transportation concerns.

About 55 percent of the survey respondents identified highway improvements and expansion as providing the biggest benefit to the state’s residents and businesses, followed by 20 percent who want to see an improved rail system.

The survey was conducted at the same time that Metro-North was forced to scale back its service to New York City when one of the electric cables failed. The survey was emailed to in late September and early October to top executives at 6,000 firms across the state, with a response rate of 10.9 percent and a margin of error of 3.92 percent.

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(8) Comments

posted by: dano860 | December 16, 2013  2:54pm

Christine, thanks for the full report on that meeting.
It sure seems strange that the project that has the biggest budget attached to it (busway) has the smallest amount of support or potential impact for these business people.
So why are we funding another ‘people mover’?? Oh ya the Unions wanted it. Well if they had their thought process straight they would realize that getting the money collected from the ‘gas tax’ into the correct account would open up a ton of value added projects across the State. Projects that would enhance our economy and bring in JOBS for the future.
Ride down the N.J. Tpk. and see the wonderful things they are doing, they will be well positioned to take work and jobs from CT.
A survey of 651 executives is a good one. That is far better response than many other surveys we have seen.
Speaker Sharkey said at that meeting that nothing would change until business’s and the public make some noise and that noise needs to come in the form of voting. Election time isn’t that far off and a major house cleaning is in order.
I wish I could get back some of the hours I have sat in traffic on Rt 84 and 91. It all started in 1966 and was the major deciding factor behind my retiring.
I remember the plans for the ‘stacks’ in West Hartford, the Rt 291 beltway, the Rt 3 connector to Rt 691…all up in smoke and it wasn’t Beatrice Auerbach that changed those plans.
Heck, we have a highway, Rt 9, in Middletown that has a stoplight in it. Yup I have been hung up there many a morning and afternoon. That is also one of the most accident prone areas in the State.
Time to clean house and get the priorities fixed in this place.

posted by: Art Vandelay | December 16, 2013  3:10pm

According to the pie chart the majority of CBIA members feel tax dollars would be best spent on improving highways.  The busway only received a 2% rating, yet Malloy dumped millions into the project that would have been better spent elsewhere.  If all the money from the gas and gross receipt taxes were put into the transportation fund as they should have been, this would be a non-issue.  Representative Tony Guerrera’s pet project of implementing tolls might just become a reality this year.

posted by: ocoandasoc | December 17, 2013  1:37am

In the 70’s the Hartford and New Haven areas were considered desirable places to locate businesses because they had access to interstate highways 95, 91 and 84. Today, the condition of and congestion on these roads makes locating a business anywhere that would force you to use them decidedly undesirable. But the time to fix these roads was decades ago. Projects were discussed, but funds were diverted and very little done. Today, major improvements are politically and economically unfeasible and the State’s residents and economy will continue to suffer because of it. Anyone that thinks that adding tolls—or building busways—will turn things around is not thinking clearly.

posted by: Mediawatcher | December 17, 2013  10:18am

I’ll say here what I’ve said elsewhere: It’s false to think that traffic congestion is a transportation problem. Surveys that focus just on transportation fail to address the full picture. Just as important: Where are jobs being located—near transit? Or out in the suburbs where you need a car? Where is new housing being built—in urban areas near jobs and transit, or out in the suburbs far from everything? If this problem is really going to get addressed (and we have a similar one here in New Jersey), it’s just as important to take a critical look at housing and zoning as additional underlying causes.

If you’re really going to address the problem, you need to reduce the number and length of car trips, as the city of Austin, Texas, is discovering: read this NPR story or listen here.

posted by: dano860 | December 17, 2013  10:33am

Art, folks that think tolls are the answer do not realize what we lose when we do that. When you enact another bureaucracy like tolls you loose the Federal Highway Funding. That money must be directed toward highway maintenance etc.
A toll system would only provide another cash account for the blue dome dwellers to raid.
There would have to be a whole division of new employees and support staff for tolls only. That leads to more un-affordable, un-funded retirement program that we can not afford.
Once again the thought of paying by the mile gets more traction. It might work too, if they eliminate the other taxes when they do it but I, personally, do not trust them to do that.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 17, 2013  12:44pm

The only reason that Gov. Malloy pushed for the busway project is that the unions wanted it—and the unions appear to OWN our governor—as a marked controllable politician.  under Malloy since 2011 Connecticut has lost 35,000 jobs, despite his raising our taxes by a record $1.6 billion dollars, and our state deficit per capita is now the highest in the nation at $49,000. Also, a state budget deficit of $1.5 billion is forecast next year.  Gov. Malloy came to Derby recently for the inauguration of Derby’s newly elected first female Mayor Dr. Anita Dugatto. I hope that the new Derby Democratic city government does not expect any fiscal help from our governor—as his track record signifies otherwise—with “red-ink record deficit prosperity already burying our state.”

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | December 17, 2013  1:12pm

I-84 is three lanes in NY to Danbury, then two lanes to Waterbury expanding to three lanes to Mass.  Pretty simple to see that it’s a bottle neck.  Liberals (progressives, lefties?) always are preoccupied with commuters but truck traffic is critical to many businesses.  CT has a terrible infrastructure for trucks (rest stops, truck stops etc.) Unlike cars, trucks pay tax in every state they pass through not just where they buy fuel.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 17, 2013  2:26pm

CORRECTION: Gov. Malloy did not attend the inauguration of Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto.  Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman did.