The leaders of several major companies in Connecticut have come out in support of Gov. Ned Lamont’s transportation plan.
The Democrat announced the CT2030 initiative on Thursday. The 10-year, $21.1 billion plan is a scaled-down proposal that focuses heavily on fixing major chokepoints on Connecticut's highways and speeding up commuter rail travel times. It will be funded with mostly borrowing and 14 new bridge tolls.
The leaders of Boehringer Ingelheim, The Hartford, Travelers, CVS Health, and Stanley Black & Decker have all come out in support of the plan, saying that the investment in transportation infrastructure is essential for economic growth and urging other lawmakers to work together on solutions to make the plan a reality.
“Transportation remains a critical issue to unlock Connecticut’s economic future,” wrote Boehringer Ingelheim CEO Wolfgang Baiker in a statement. “We applaud Governor Lamont’s willingness to address transportation in the state with a comprehensive plan. Transportation significantly impacts residents and business alike. We hope state leaders will continue the conversation and take action on this important issue.”
Travelers Chairman and CEO Alan Schnitzer expressed similar sentiments, saying “improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is critical for enabling economic growth. We appreciate the Governor’s leadership on this important initiative, and we encourage legislative leaders to come to an agreement and move forward together.”
The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents many small businesses, is opposed to the plan, saying they are looking for a plan that does not include tolls.
“MTAC represents hundreds of small businesses in the State of Connecticut, and we are opposed to tolling existing highway lanes or bridges. The average 18-wheel tractor trailer in Connecticut already pays more than $17,000 in state and federal road taxes annually, and the state gets up to $30 million per year from out-of-state trucks traveling in Connecticut. The road taxes paid by these trucking companies, and other small businesses and individuals, are too often spent on things that have nothing to do with transportation. The best way to relieve highway congestion and improve Connecticut’s infrastructure is to ensure that our road taxes are spent on roads and bridges, so that we can replicate good projects like the recently completed I-84 Waterbury project, which did not require tolls," MTAC President Joseph R. Sculley said in a statement.
The founder of No Tolls CT said the new support from corporate leaders does nothing to change their feelings.
"The question is do the employees of those companies have those same views. I would also ask is the governor going around and speaking to the small businesses in Connecticut that are struggling to survive," said No Tolls CT Founder Patrick Sasser. "I understand that people want to see the roads go faster. I'd like to see that myself, but do we continue putting this burden on the taxpayers of Connecticut year after year?
The plan devotes $14 billion toward road projects designed to ease traffic on the state’s highways. Another $7 billion would be spent on buses and rail over the next ten years, including the purchase of new Metro-North trains and investments to lower train travel times by 10 to 15 minutes.
This is the plan included in CT 2030
Several iterations of the governor’s original plan included between 50 and 80 tolls. Each one was met with enough skepticism this spring that the Democrat-controlled House and Senate declined to even take them up for a vote. Republicans have repeatedly said they would not approve a plan that includes tolls.
A spokesperson for the governor said that the companies supporting CT2030 aren't just endorsing tolls, but improvements for Metro-North and Connecticut's highways, among the many plans in the proposal.