Panel to review funding Connecticut transportation overhaul as tolling bill remains alive

Industrials Associated Press

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday announced the formation of a nonpartisan group that will spend the next several months coming up with options to fund his proposed 30-year, $100 billion overhaul of Connecticut's transportation system.

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The Democrat said the Governor's Transportation Finance Panel will recommend transportation financing options to him by the end of the summer. The panel includes experts in transportation, finance and economic development. It will be led by former New Haven Rep. Cameron Staples, the former co-chairman of the General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee.

The group will finish its review after the legislature's scheduled adjournment in June. Malloy said in the meantime he hopes lawmakers approve his five-year, $2.8 billion "ramp-up" plan to begin planning, engineering and design work for some key highway and rail projects.

He said it's up to lawmakers if they want to proceed with legislation this session that could lead to electronic highway tolls. But he pointed out that tolls would generate only a third of what's needed to cover the $100 billion overhaul.

"They need to do what they feel they need to do," he said.

A bill recently cleared the Transportation Committee that would require the Department of Transportation commissioner to develop a program for tolling and report back to lawmakers with the details no later than Jan. 1. The bill awaits further legislative action.