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Legislators Making Bid To Stop Busway Project


February 22, 2012

Three Republican state legislators are proposing a bill to stop the New-Britain-to-Hartford busway, and a Democratic lawmaker is sponsoring a measure to cap its budget at its current estimated cost, $567 million.

But time is running short on the General Assembly's schedule and political momentum is still favoring the busway.

Republican opponents have been looking to this year's short legislative session as another opportunity to block the busway project. They're up against steep political odds, though: Democratic Gov.Dannel P. Malloyis actively supporting it, and the heavily Democratic General Assembly has shown no interest in fighting him on the issue.

The strongest bill is being promoted by Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, along with Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, and Rep. Whitt Betts, R-Bristol. It would divert $110 million in state bonding from the busway and instead use it for highway and bridge repairs. Such a move would scuttle the project altogether.

"Rather than funding a boondoggle of epic proportions, the funds would be better used to repair our badly deteriorating transportation infrastructure," Markley said.

They are asking the finance, revenue and bonding committee to raise the bill on Feb. 24, and they say it's a matter of public safety.

"Using $110 million of taxpayer money to fund a 9-mile busway that many people will not use is irresponsible," Welch said. "We have a great need to repair roads and bridges around our state. Connecticut must invest in projects that are essential to maintaining the safety of our people."

Earlier in the winter, Markley and Betts were trying to get the proposal before the transportation committee, but got no support from the committee co-chairs.

Rep. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, recently put forward a much less drastic proposal.

His bill would cap the busway budget at the currently estimated $567 million, making state managers responsible for heading off overruns. Lopes wants the transportation committee to take up matter, but it is not on the agenda for the meeting today, which is the committee's deadline for raising new bills.

Lopes is the only member of New Britain's all-Democratic legislative delegation to challenge the busway.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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