Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker announced yesterday that the state was launching an 18-month transportation planning process, TransformCT, that will draw on broad public input and result in a plan to “transform transportation in Connecticut.”
Speaking at a meeting of the state’s agency commissioners in Hartford, Redeker argued that Connecticut’s transportation needs were changing. “We now see a shift in focus toward walkable neighborhoods and healthy communities,” he said. According to Redeker, the result of TransformCT will be a strategic transportation plan that uses “comprehensive cost-benefit analysis” to vet projects, and which complements the state’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which was released last year and recommends finding ways to reduce driving in Connecticut. Redeker said the process could help boost environmentally sustainable forms of transportation, and identify ways to make the DOT more responsive and efficient.
ConnDOT and consultant CDM Smith will solicit ideas through an interactive website, www.TransformCT.org (based on the Mind Mixer platform), meetings across the state, and surveys and opinion research. Recommendations are to be released by early 2015.
Redeker emphasized the need for broad input. “The people of Connecticut deserve the opportunity to envision their own future,” he said. “This will not be the DOT’s plan; it will be Connecticut’s.”
Governor Malloy said it was important not to prejudge the planning process. But during a question-and-answer session, he arguably did just that, telling reporters that he “personally believed” the state should widen both I-95 and I-84, and construct the Route 11 highway in southeastern Connecticut. These projects would undoubtedly cost billions of dollars, worsen the state’s environmental performance, foster additional suburban sprawl and add more congestion to the state’s roadways.
Nevertheless, advocates expressed excitement at the prospect of a statewide conversation about the future of the state’s transportation system. In a statement, Tri-State executive director Veronica Vanterpool said the announcement showed “bold leadership,” and came as Connecticut faced a turning point. “Fewer people are driving, new rail and bus lines are being built, and local leaders see walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods as the key to economic success,” she said. “Now is the right time to plan for our 21st-century reality.”