Gov. Dannel. P. Malloy said Wednesday he plans to dedicate much of his second term to overhauling Connecticut's aging transportation system, predicting his wide-ranging, comprehensive proposal will cost "billions and billions and billions" of dollars over the next several decades.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, hours before his inauguration, the Democrat said he expects to face criticism over both the cost and breadth of the initiative, but that people must understand that the system is currently costing the state billions in lost time and revenue.
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"This is the time. We're ready to do it," Malloy said. "You make decisions about when you're ready to take on issues and I believe that this is the session to take on this issue."
Malloy planned to tell lawmakers about his focus on transportation during his State of the State Address, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Malloy said he will introduce a comprehensive plan in February for the General Assembly to consider. He said it will address every region of the state and include all types of transportation.
"It will be rails, it will be roads, it will be ports, it will be airports, it will be bikeways and pathways. It is thoroughly comprehensive," said Malloy.
The governor said he inherited a state Department of Transportation four years ago without a comprehensive transportation improvement plan. He said his administration has since put together a new team that has already begun the process to understand what needs to be done.
Malloy's transportation push will be a costly one.
"We're talking about billions and billions and billions of dollars over a 30-year-period," he said, declining to provide more specifics.
The initiative comes at a time when Connecticut faces several years of projected billion-dollar budget deficits. But Malloy stressed there is a difference between the state's operating budget, which he said will be addressed this session, and the state's investments in things like transportation.
"Like taking on jobs and economic growth, and like taking on education reform, it is now time to take up transportation reform," the governor said. "We're taking on these issues in a big way. I mean for it be thoroughly comprehensive."