In a move that should be lauded by transportation and smart growth advocates statewide, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is reevaluating whether the Route 11 expansion project fits within the state’s transportation priorities.
Essentially this means that ConnDOT has deemed the Route 11 boondoggle, estimated to cost $1 billion, not in the financial interests of the state. Considering that over 75% of Connecticut’s roads are in less than good condition and 33% of its bridges are rated “deficient,” ConnDOT is right to squash Route 11 as a matter of both transportation and fiscal policy. The $1 billion could be more effectively used for repair of the state’s roads and bridges and proven congestion busters like expanding transit service on Shore Line East to New London.
As the Campaign wrote in a letter to The Day, this is a huge victory for progressive transportation policy in Connecticut. Along with ConnDOT’s wise usage of stimulus dollars, it indicates that the prospects of shifting ConnDOT’s emphasis from highway expansion to a “fix-it-first” policy that emphasizes the maintenance and repair of existing road and bridge infrastructure are continuing to improve.
The reevaluation of Route 11 should be credited to ConnDOT Commissioner Joe Marie and his effective leadership at the department since last year. In this time he has talked at length about the need for ConnDOT to become an agency that promotes “different modes of mobility,” transit-oriented development, and smart growth. He is now backing up his words with action.
However, the story of Route 11 is not totally complete. Congressman Joe Courtney, a supporter of this project, has called upon Governor Rell to “explicitly declare whether the completion of Route 11 is a priority for the state and end the decades-long limbo surrounding the… highway project.“ It’s a fair request. The citizens of Connecticut deserve to know if the state will keep even a small breath of life in an ill-advised and expensive transportation project. Governor Rell and Commissioner Marie should emphatically, and proudly, sound Route 11′s death knell.
Image: Google Maps-based illustration (does not show exact project routing).