Load restriction announced for Route 34 across Stevenson Dam Bridge

From CT Post.

A load restriction of 15 tons will be enforced along Route 34 at the Stevenson Dam Bridge until repairs on the roadway in the area are complete.

Route 34 carries traffic over the Housatonic River between Monroe and Oxford.

The load restriction was decided on by the state Department of Transportation and announced by Monroe police and the Derby City Clerk’s Office.

The restriction to 15 tons applies to all vehicles and will remain in place “until needed repairs are designed and completed,” the DOT alert said.

See the article from CT Post online.

Senate approves two-year, $43 billion state budget; Gov. Lamont expected to sign

From The Hartford Courant.

The state Senate approved a two-year, $43 billion budget Tuesday night with Democrats hailing the plan as fiscally prudent and Republicans blasting the package as a bad deal with too many tax increases.

The 567-page budget, which passed in the House of Representatives late Monday night, closes a projected deficit of $3.7 billion over two years and funds a wide variety of programs. The spending increases of 1.7 percent in the first year and 3.4 percent in the second year are lower than in some past years.

After nearly eight hours of debate, the Senate voted 20-16 with two Democrats — freshman Alex Bergstein of Greenwich and veteran Joan Hartley of Waterbury — joining with the Republicans against the package.

The budget does not increase the rates of the income or sales taxes and includes no reductions in state aid to cities and towns. The budget would also expand the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax to include parking, dry cleaning, laundry and interior design services, but coin-operated laundries would be exempt.

See the complete article from the Hartford Courant online.

Connecticut Resources

Lamont lacking on specifics over paid FMLA; Gets started on compromise

From CT News Junkie.

It’s been a week since Gov. Ned Lamont threatened to veto the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill approved by the Senate, and as of Wednesday morning House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the governor has offered no specifics as to how to resolve the conflict and get the bill passed.

“I don’t think we’re that far off,” Aresimowicz said Wednesday during a press conference in his Capitol office.

At the same time, he also admitted that he actually doesn’t know how far apart the two sides are in reaching an agreement.

“We’re just waiting on specifics for what the governor actually wants. I think it’s the board make-up and how they allocate the resources out to provide the program,” Aresimowicz said.

But he doesn’t necessarily know.

Aresimowicz said they’ve been floating different ideas regarding the make-up of the board that would run the quasi-public agency.

But why are they having to guess what Lamont actually wants?

Aresimowicz said the governor has not given them any language.

See the full story from CT News Junkie online.

In another shift, Lamont wants regular session vote on tolls

From CT Post.

Gov. Ned Lamont has asked lawmakers to fast-track electronic highway tolls, reversing a previous position to let the issue slide for a special session after the June 5 adjournment of the General Assembly.

In meetings with majority Democratic leaders this week, Lamont asked for them to return his signature legislation to the front burner. Doing so would threaten hundreds of other bills that would die at 12:01 a.m. June 6 if they don’t get legislative approval.

“He reached out to leadership to see if there was one last try, to see if the votes were there for this session, and to not have to go into a special (session) for the issue of tolls,” said Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, co-chair of the Transportation Committee.

This change now puts extra pressure on lawmakers, including Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, Leone’s transportation co-chair, who would have to lead passage of tolls through the House, before the legislation can advance to the Senate. Lemar was told by legislative leaders on Tuesday to get ready to run the bill in the House, he said.

I-91 NB Exit 28 to close from tonight (May 29) for two years

From CT DOT.

The closure is necessary to facilitate the first major stage of construction activity (lowering of southbound Routes 5/15 under I-91), and will last approximately two years.

From tonight, Wednesday night, May 29, detour signs will direct I-91 northbound motorists seeking Routes 5/15 southbound at Exit 28 to follow the detour route as follows, and as depicted below:

  • Follow I-91 northbound to Exit 29 (to Routes 5/15 and cross over the Charter Oak Bridge)
  • Take Exit 90 to Route 2 westbound
  • Take first Exit to East River Drive
  • Turn right on East River Drive
  • Turn right onto ramp for Routes 5/15 southbound

See the complete article online.

Liberal Democrats want more tax hikes on the rich in final crafting of state budget

From Harford Courant.

As lawmakers scramble to finish a budget in the final full week of the legislative session, some liberal Democrats are concerned negotiators are not proposing enough tax hikes on the rich as they seek compromise with Gov. Ned Lamont.

Negotiators have agreed on the outlines of a plan that rejects a 2 percentage point surcharge on investment income of the wealthy after Lamont drew a line in the sand against the hike. In return, Lamont is dropping requests for a new tax on sugary beverages, as well as requiring cities and towns to pay part of the costs of teachers’ pensions.

But with plans for raising $262 million from the investment income tax increase dropped, some liberals say there are not enough taxes on the rich in the proposed budget. Lawmakers are calling for raising about $50 million per year in pass-through entity taxes, which are largely paid by wealthy business owners, and an additional conveyance tax on homes that sell for more than $2.5 million.

“It’s not enough,” said Rep. Anne Hughes, co-chair of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus. “It’s not even close to a fair and equitable budget. Houston, we have a problem. Where’s the rest of the revenue?”

See the complete article from Hartford Courant online.

Weekend closure and detour of I-95 in Stamford begins May 31

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that the first of two scheduled weekend closures and detours of I-95 in Stamford at Exit 9 is set to begin on Friday, May 31, 2019.  The closures are necessary to facilitate the installation of two new bridge structures carrying Route 1 over I-95.

Motorists are strongly advised to avoid the area during the closure timeframes to avoid heavy traffic delays.

Closure Details

The first weekend closure will occur on Friday, May 31, 2019:

  • 6 PM – Exit 9 on-ramps closed and Route 1 reduced to one lane
  • 9 PM – Closure of the off-ramps and the closure of Route 1 at the bridge (between Courtland and Seaside Avenues)
  • 11PM – I-95 will be closed at Exit 9, with traffic diverted to temporary roadways using the highway on and off-ramps

Both I-95 and Route 1 will be re-opened to traffic by 5 AM on Monday, June 3.

The second scheduled weekend closure will occur on Friday, June 7, 2019, following the same pattern used for the first closure, with Route 1 and I-95 re-opened by 5 AM on Monday, June 10.

Construction Update

The two new bridge spans have been completely formed and are ready for installation. Six hundred and twenty-eight cubic yards of concrete weighing over 1.5 million pounds was used to build the two bridge spans. About 32 miles of rebar was installed within the newly constructed bridge spans, and new structural steel was used to create the new bridge superstructures.  Each individual span to be lifted and set into place weighs between approximately 1.6 million pounds, and 1.8 million pounds.

In the two weeks leading up the closures, the contractor will be busy preparing the site as well as equipment that will be used to move the bridge spans into place.

There will be live streaming video feeds of construction during the weekends when the bridge is installed on the project website, www.i95exit9.com.

Trump tells Democrats to pass new NAFTA before infrastructure

From Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump told Democratic congressional leaders on the eve of a White House meeting to discuss restoring the nation’s infrastructure that he first wanted them to pass his replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday. “It will replace the job killing Nafta, one of the worst trade deals ever entered into by our nation.”

“Once Congress has passed USMCA,” Trump continued, “we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package.”

The White House, which this week removed steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on Canada and Mexico a year ago, wants to build momentum to pass the accord, a major goal of the president as his re-election campaign gets underway.

Pelosi has said that she wants to support the deal, but has demanded changes that would strengthen labor and environmental protections and ensure enforcement of the agreement.

See the complete article from Bloomberg online.

New look at what tolls would mean for Connecticut drivers

Excerpt from CT Post.

“Our plan, we think is the best value for Connecticut drivers,” Lemar said, detailing several months of negotiations with the state DOT, as well as federal highway authorities for months, with focus on strategic investments. “We feel pretty proud of the product that we have. If you are commuting every day as a Connecticut driver, going to and from work, we think you should be paying a little bit less.”

“The other states are soaking out-of-state drivers,” said House Majority Leader Matt Ritter. “That’s exactly what they do. The cost sometimes is $20 to go over a bridge. Every other state is doing that except Connecticut.” He said that Connecticut’s bill is likely to be the most-comprehensive package on tolling in the nation as it aims at generating $700 million a year in revenue.

“What all other states have done in the last 10 years when they passed a tolling program legislatively, they just create a framework where DOT negotiates with federal highway authorities,” Lemar said. “We’re saying is that that’s not good enough. In Connecticut we want to know the details up front.”

Driver choices, with higher prices during morning and afternoon commuter hours, would potentially discourage some drivers, including interstate truckers. “Frankly this drives consumer choices,” Lemar said. “Like a lot of the trucks that we find on our roadways at 8:30 in the morning traveling along congested highways should be making a better and smarter business choice about when they’re on the roads.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said because the plan would not affect highway congestion, he believes that federal authorities are unlikely to okay it.

“There is nothing in this working draft to indicate that it will gain approval from the Federal Highway Administration,” he said, stressing that the plan seems to be driven by raising money, not reducing traffic congestion as required by the FHWA.

See complete article from CT Post online.

Anti-toll group delivers 100,000 petition signatures to Lamont

Excerpt from Yankee Institute article.

Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents the trucking industry, said his group also opposes tolls on Connecticut’s highways.

“The current toll proposals will be a huge cost burden on small businesses in Connecticut,” Sculley said. “In a state that is struggling with small, medium and large-sized businesses, this is going to affect all of them, but particularly small businesses, the hardest.”

Sculley said the trucking industry won’t be able to absorb the added cost of tolls and the expense will be passed down to consumers, driving up the price of goods in the state. He added that one of his members estimated tolls would actually double their tax burden in a single year.

Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, which recently spent $900,000 on television advertisements supporting tolls, said he thinks No Tolls CT is “doing a wonderful job with their campaign.”

To see the complete article from Yankee Institute.