Businesses rank congestion as state's top transportation issue
Regional - posted Mon., Dec. 16, 2013
Overcrowded highways and roads are the top transportation concern for Connecticut businesses, according to a new survey.
The 2013 Connecticut Transportation Survey found that business leaders ranked transportation third, behind economic development and education, for desired state government spending priorities.
More than half of survey respondents (55%) identified highway improvements and expansion as providing the biggest benefit to the state's residents and businesses, followed by improving and expanding rail systems (20%).
The survey, the first major study of statewide transportation issues, was sponsored by UIL Holdings Corporation and produced by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Construction Industries Association, and Motor Transport Association of Connecticut.
"This survey measures the increasingly negative impact of the state's outdated transportation infrastructure on the state's residents, businesses and economic vitality," said CBIA economist Pete Gioia, speaking recently at the 2013 Connecticut Transportation Summit in Stamford.
"While the state has made some important first steps in addressing these challenges, it's very clear that considerable work remains."
James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive officer of UIL Holdings Corporation, called for improvements to the state's beleaguered transit system.
"Connecticut's economy will continue to stagnate unless we invest in improving connectivity both within the state and to the New York City and Boston metropolitan areas," he said. "More and better transit options will support economic growth and improve quality of life."
Other key findings from the survey:
Nearly three-quarters (74%) support legislation prohibiting the use of Connecticut's Special Transportation Fund to cover General Fund shortfalls.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents said recent increases in the state's gas and diesel taxes impacted their businesses.
42% of companies surveyed say road congestion limits their market.
64% believe better transportation options would increase their ability to attract and maintain a quality workforce.
Businesses overwhelmingly want operational lanes added to I-95 (88% of respondents).
15% considered relocating their businesses because of regional transportation concerns.
Stamford Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Condlin noted that traffic volume on I-95 was more than three times the highway's capacity of 50,000 daily vehicle trips.
"It's no wonder that this highway structure is among the state's - and even the country's - worst and most unsafe," Condlin said.
Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said the survey results proved the state's economic health was dependent on upgrading its transportation system. "This is a wake-up call to Connecticut's political leadership," he said. "It's time to stop postponing expansions and improvements and get this state moving again."
Connecticut Construction Industries Association President Donald J. Shubert said the state "must put every dollar to good use.
"Turning available funding into designed and constructed projects as quickly as possible will have a positive and lasting effect on Connecticut's workforce, infrastructure, and economy," he said.
The 2013 Connecticut Transportation Survey was e-mailed in late September and early October to top executives at 6,000 firms across the state, with a response rate of 10.9% and a margin of error of +/- 3.92%.
CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with 10,000 member companies.