Susan Bysiewicz pitches new transportation plan: low interest federal loans, tolls for bridges

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz offered a look into Gov. Ned Lamont’s new transportation plan today during a public meeting before the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

The plan involves using low-interest federal loans available through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Act, part of the Build America Bureau with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal loans would be combined with limited tolling on some Connecticut bridges, but not the extensive congestion tolling plan originally put forward by both Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lamont.

Sources indicate the toll rates for bridges will be low, with a discount for in-state residents.

Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz

Both TIFIA and RRIF offer low interest, flexible loans with maximum terms of 36 years after completion of the project and were created to help state fund investments in large projects. The fixed interest rates are equivalent to Treasury rates, according to Build America’s website.

The programs also offer deferral periods following completion of the project. The TIFIA and RRIF loans do not prevent – and can be secondary to – other state borrowing, according to the program overview.

The programs offer assistance ranging from 33 percent to 49 percent of the anticipated project costs, depending on the type of credit assistance or loan.

The programs offer assistance ranging from 33 percent to 49 percent of the anticipated project costs, depending on the type of credit assistance or loan.

The list of projects funded by TIFIA show the federal assistance is matched with a revenue pledge that sometimes includes toll revenue or, in other cases, sales tax revenue.

The latest project listed by TIFIA is the Lynwood Link Extension, a $3 billion public transit project in Seattle for the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority. TIFIA funded $657.9 million for the project this year.

According the Build America website, “TIFIA was created because state and local governments that sought to finance large-scale transportation projects with tolls and other forms of user-backed revenue often had difficulty obtaining financing at reasonable rates due to the uncertainties associated with these revenue streams.”

A team from Build America will be presenting to the state’s Councils of Governments, legislators and chief elected officials at the Connecticut Department of Transportation on Friday, September 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Connecticut has not utilized this program in recent memory, but Lamont’s Chief of Staff Ryan Drajewicz reportedly travelled to Washington D.C. to meet with officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration in order to develop a new transportation strategy for Connecticut after two consecutive years of failure to pass a tolling plan.

Lamont has been holding back on state bonding as part of his “debt diet” until there is a plan in place to pay for the state’s future infrastructure needs.

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(9) Comments

  1. Ted Wislocki

    November 8, 2019 1:03 pm

    The tolls will be strategically placed at 14 bridges (if both ways would be 28 gantries) so in effect we will have tolled highways. I have no faith that these tolls will be temporary. It still amazes me that politicians think we are not smart enough to figure out what they are trying to do. The taking of money out of the Special Transportation Fund to the General Fund tells me they aren’t serious about their needs for transportation.

  2. Lee Erdmann

    September 23, 2019 1:24 pm

    This seems like a viable alternative to past plans. More details are needed. The NO TOLLS people need to keep an open mind and consider compromise. Extremists rarely get the job done but thy are great at holding back progress.

    • Thad Stewart

      October 20, 2019 7:21 am

      Lee, the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut have reached the breaking point. It is time for the gubment to CUT spending and STOP electing themselves raises. Please pay attention.

  3. Thad Stewart

    September 21, 2019 8:10 pm

    Ned, what part of we DON’T want tolls don’t you understand? You will have to figure out how to buy votes some other way.

  4. Jim Kozma

    September 21, 2019 12:17 pm

    Do you honestly think Bysiewicz or any other Democrat cares about what you or I think? They know that no matter what they do Connecticut’s liberal press and media will cover for them and they will all be overwhelmingly be re-elected again as Connecticut’s voters once again ” show Trump “.

  5. Al Hofer

    September 20, 2019 10:35 pm

    NONE of these Dems in Hartford are to be trusted with our money, ever again. And where does Bysiewicz come off trying to sound like she’s an authority on tolls all of a sudden? All she ever does is march in parades and pose for useless, self-serving photo ops, trying to look like SHE is the Governor. She was useless as Secretary of state and just as useless as Lt Governor.

  6. Stephen Bennett

    September 19, 2019 7:48 pm

    Have you lost your damn mind? We are telling you NO TOLLS!!!
    NO COMPROMISE. end of story. Stop robbing the lock box on the fuel tax! Enough is enough! I have a budget, you need to stop wasting my money on bullshit programs. I WANT TO SEE SOME CUTS! YOU CANT JUST KEEP KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD!!!! damn you assholes make me so mad..

    • M W OShaughnessy

      September 20, 2019 1:21 pm

      The resistance to tolling has obviously stunned the Democrats and SEBAC. And now the chicken tax fiasco/backlash. In the past, most CT voters never paid attention, but as Stein’s Law of Economics states: things that can’t go on forever, don’t. We may have reached the saturation point on taxpayer abuse. So instead of listening to the taxpayers, the Democrat/SEBAC plan is to float this new tolling idea as a very reasonable compromise – “surely just bridges is something the public will buy into.” Then once the tolling authority is setup, EZ Passes issued, infrastructure in place, the Democrats (because they will be in power, CT voters never learn) can quietly start expanding the number of gantries and toll roads. Voila! SEBAC has its revenue spigot.
      Does anyone really believe they’ll just stop at bridges?

      • Greg Fogg

        September 28, 2019 9:56 am

        Exactly right! Even a single bridge toll will turn into as many as they want..

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