Gov. Ned Lamont has released his long-awaited bonding bill, which at $1.7 billion is about $300 million more than he had originally envisioned as part of his self-imposed “debt diet.”
Lamont had announced a compromise deal on the state bond package at the end of January.
The 74-page bond package provides $200 million over two years to the Department of Transportation for “construction, repair or maintenance of highways, roads, bridge or bus and rail facilities and equipment.”
Those improvements include:
- I-84 widening between exits 3 and 8;
- I-91, I-691 and Route 15 interchange improvements;
- I-95 improvements to reduce congestion between New Haven and the New York state line, and between New Haven and the Rhode Island state line;
- Rehabilitation and repair for the I-95 Gold Star Bridge; and
- Reconfiguration for Route 7 and Route 15 interchange in Norwalk.
It also includes $55 million over two years for “alterations, renovations and improvements” at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.
The bond package had been delayed for the past several months, with the governor refusing his approval until state lawmakers adopted a tolls proposal or demonstrated an alternative means of paying for upgrades to the state’s transportation system over the next few years.
After several delays on that front, the General Assembly is now expected to vote on tolls on Feb. 18 or 19.
The bond package also frees up municipal aid for snow-clearing and other roadway maintenance. The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), which represents municipalities with fewer than 30,000 residents, said it was heartened by the bond package finally moving forward.
“We are hopeful that the legislature will act swiftly to adopt the bond package to ensure that towns can move forward with vital road and infrastructure projects to enhance their communities,” COST Executive Director Betsy Gara said in a statement. “Towns have been waiting for this funding since July, which has made it extremely difficult to plan for projects that are important to the future of their communities.”
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which represents all 169 cities and towns in the state, also spoke in favor of the move, but said it preferred that bonding not be tied to the tolls issue.
The bond package also includes:
- Up to $5 million for the Small Business Express program to help spur job growth;
- Up to $40 million over two years for the state Department of Labor for workforce training;
- Up to $22 million over two years for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities for research laboratories, telecommunications improvements and advanced manufacturing programs;
- Almost $40 million over two years for the Judicial Department for upgrades at courthouses and other buildings; and
- Up to $90 million over two years for dredging and improving the state’s deep-water ports.