On Wednesday the 2018 Connecticut Transportation Showcase took place at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, with a theme of the future of transportation in Connecticut.
The group talked about a vision of transportation transformation and celebrated the Hartford Rail Line that will debut on June 16, connecting New Haven and Springfield. The meeting first congratulated businesses for taking part in last month’s Drive Less competition, where more than 43,000 car trips were eliminated across the state.
A panel discussion also took place, including Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker and Hartford Yard Goats President Tim Restall. The Director Emerita of the League of American Bicyclists, Karen Jenkins and Senior Transportation Planning Manager on Automated Vehicle Development of AECOM, David DeRosa, also took part.
“Now we are opening the Hartford line, another significant investment, we have already seen close to $400 million of economic investment along that corridor. What that means is this is an opportunity for people to relocate or build along that rail line,” Redeker said.
Along with trains, the panel touched on other alternatives to driving, such as scooters and bicycles. Bike lanes are already being added to 94 percent of all repaved roads.
“Bikes are really part of the fabric of what we do at DOT, starting with complete streets, meaning everything we design has pedestrians and bicycles in mind. All of our public transportation system is accessible to bicycles,” Redeker said.
Autonomous vehicles will play a role in the state’s future as well, Redeker said, even discussing the possibility of autonomous buses as a solution to safety issues on the roads.
“We are constantly worried about safety for people and I think the autonomous vehicle program has really got to transform safety. And as we think about distracted driving and impaired driving, the accidents and pedestrian incidents have just soared. I am hopeful the benefits of technology of autonomous vehicles will really hit safety first,” Redeker said.
The question that remains is how the state will pay for all of this transportation innovation. The commissioner said the state budget has increased transportation funding for the next five years and he considers future tolls an option.
“Tolls are an option we don't have in Connecticut and yet every other state, frankly, up and down the East Coast does and as we think about alternatives it is one that should be considered,” Redeker said.
The CT Rail Hartford line starts rolling on June 16 and 17, which also happens to be Father’s Day weekend. It will be free to riders on both days.