CCM calls on Governor & State Bond Commission to take action to release critical infrastructure state aid promised for towns in second half of FY 2017-18
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Kevin Maloney (203) 710-3486
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Thursday, February 15) called on Governor Malloy and the State Bond Commission to take action at the regularly-scheduled meeting of the State Bond Commission set for Friday morning, February 16 to release the second and final $30 million payment for Town Aid for Roads (TAR) -- the long-standing core grant from the State to towns that provides for critical repairs of Connecticut local roads and bridges.
CCM is urging that the $30 million second TAR payment be added to the agenda, which would come from the State Special Transportation Fund (STF), to be authorized by the State Bond Commission, right way.
The $30 million payment that is owed to towns is presently not on the Bond Commission’s agenda for the Friday meeting -- an ominous sign -- as towns and cities await the full complement of state aid that they have included in their municipal budgets to conduct critical repair work during the Spring -- following the disrepair that permeates annually during the winter season.
Local government is responsible for maintaining the majority of Connecticut’s roads and bridges. As of 2015, according to the DOT, municipalities own and maintain 17,365 road miles — more than four times greater than the 4,143 road miles owned and maintained by the State. 73 percent of Connecticut’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Legislature created the Town Aid Road grant (TAR) way back in 1967 — to help municipalities fund the construction, improvement and maintenance of local roads and bridges. This money can also be used for a variety of programs related to roads, traffic, and parking.
Local governments have long depended on TAR grants – so, when TAR is cut, local road projects are shelved – meaning jobs are lost and costs of repairs will be even higher when finally undertaken. Shortchanging TAR is pennywise and pound-foolish.
The current expenditure level of $60 million has been maintained, despite ongoing state budget difficulties, via state bond funds, and towns appreciate this. However, the current allocation “gives towns the same purchasing power they had with $30 million in 1986. And, it would take $85.7 million to match the fiscal clout of the $13 million first authorized in 1967.
As the fight to adequately fund and maintain the TAR grant continues, the cost of repair and maintenance continues to rise. “According to the state DOT, the costs of diesel fuel and of bituminous liquid asphalt – two crucial materials for road projects – skyrocketed during the years leading up to the last recession. Between 2004 and 2008, the prices for these two items jumped 168 percent and 177 percent, respectively.”
“The ultimate cost of poor road conditions is significantly more over time than the cost to maintain those same roads in good condition. For example, after 25 years the cost per lane mile for reconstruction can be more than three times the cost of preservation treatments over the same time period, which can lead to a longer overall life span for the infrastructure.”
Investments in road repairs back to top
So, while TAR funding has been sustained, it remains critically short of what towns and cities require to maintain existing and repair deficient and aging roads and bridges.
Investments in road repairs will improve the safety of Connecticut’s roadways:
- According to the Roadway Safety Foundation, 53% of traffic fatalities occur in crashes in which the condition of the road was a contributing factor.
- Connecticut’s traffic fatality rate of 0.75 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on the state’s rural roads is disproportionately higher than that on all other roads in the state (1.95 fatalities per 100 million miles of travel vs. 0.62).
- Motor vehicle crashes cost Connecticut $4 billion per year, $1,100 for each resident, in medical costs, lost productivity, travel delays, workplace costs, insurance costs and legal costs.