Seven years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Connecticut’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Connecticut, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Constitution State.
An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Conversely, reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.
As the insurance capital of the nation and with an economy based largely on finance, engineering, manufacturing, information technology, electronics, agriculture and mining, the quality of Connecticut’s transportation system will play a vital role in the state’s level of economic growth and in the quality of life in Connecticut.
In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation issues faced in Connecticut as the state addresses its need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit systems.
Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects. MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. The current federal transportation legislation was initially set to expire on September 30, 2014. However, following numerous short-term extensions passed by Congress, the bill is now set to expire on December 4, 2015. Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.
The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Connecticut.
COST TO CONNECTICUT MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS
An inadequate transportation system costs Connecticut motorists a total of $5.1 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
- TRIP estimates that Connecticut roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $5.1 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
- TRIP has calculated the average cost to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features. The chart below details the costs to drivers in the Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas.
POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CONNECTICUT
The rate of population and economic growth in Connecticut have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.
- Connecticut’s population reached approximately 3.6 million residents in 2014, a nine percent increase since 1990.
- Connecticut had 2.5 million licensed drivers in 2013.
- Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Connecticut increased by 18 percent from 1990 to 2013 –from 26.3 billion VMT in 1990 to 30.9 billion VMT in 2013.
- By 2030, vehicle travel in Connecticut is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
- From 1990 to 2013, Connecticut’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 41 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 65 percent during this time.
Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.