Monday, April 6, 2009

Connecticut on the Move? Will This Plan get us There?

The Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on its Strategic Long-Range Transportation Plan 2009 – 2035. Public comments are due April 30 and should be addressed to: Mrs. Roxanne Fromson, Supervising Transportation Planner, Bureau of Policy and Planning, CONNDOT, PO Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546, Roxanne dot Fromson at A copy of the plan is available on the DOT website at

The plan is a confusing document. On the one hand, the Department of Transportation should be commended for beautifully articulating an integrated and forward-thinking transportation vision. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how the priorities articulated in this plan line up with that vision. The plan specifies no benchmarks for measuring its progress toward its vision. It does not include a capital plan with prioritized projects, timeframes, status reports, sources of revenues and projected gaps. And it seems to indicate that the agency’s top priority is to muddle along as best as it can, given available and insufficient resources.

I highly recommend reading the text of this plan. It compellingly discusses the link between transportation policies/projects and land use, economic development, and climate change. It outlines the need for a transportation system that is balanced, multi-modal and safely carries the state’s citizens and businesses into the future. It argues convincingly that because transportation project time horizons span decades, the Department of Transportation must be forward-thinking. The plan’s text includes a strong transit thrust and articulates the benefits of transit oriented development. Clearly, Ms Fromson and those working with her know what they’re talking about.

Still, the plan falls short of providing a sense of leadership, direction and advocacy. It does not map out a proactive strategy to meet the needs it articulates. It does not call on State government and the people of Connecticut to support a specific set of initiatives to deliver us in 2035 with a strong economy, multi-modal mobility, and a healthy environment. Instead, it tells us that the agency’s priorities are to be safe and to hold steady.

Now, maybe that’s our fault. Only 98 people commented in the listening sessions the agency hosted on the plan. Maybe the department thought we don’t care about the quality of our transportation system or that we’re not willing to put our shoulders to the wheel and invest in 21st Century infrastructure. So, we have to show them they’re mistaken. Sit down today and write a comment to DOT, tell them we can’t wait until 2035 for proactive investments in bike and pedestrian access, transit and transit oriented development. We need to be making them now. Ask them to include in this strategic long-term plan a capital plan so we know where projects are in the queue, when they’ll be started and completed, what they cost, how we’re paying for them, and where we’re short. And thank them for so eloquently summarizing the issues at hand.

1 comment:


    The completed plan is now online. July 2009.