Report slams I-95 widening as wasteful

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HARTFORD - It has an $11.2 billion price tag but Governor Malloy believes widening I-95 the length of the state is a way to mitigate traffic congestion and generate billions in economic growth.

A new report by the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group and Frontier Group paints a different picture, placing the widening of I-95 in Connecticut as one of 12 worst highway projects across the country.

"We found this would be a terrible waste of money,” said ConnPIRG’s Director, Evan Preston.

Preston believes the project will only bring more headaches.

"The problem with widening is simple: you cannot widen your way out of congestion,” said Preston. “The cities across the country that have tried that approach have failed."

Preston calls it “induced demand”.

"Where more traffic gets onto those roads as drivers are encouraged to use those roadways and you have development around those roads, that increases the reasons why people would be getting onto that part of the highway,” said Preston.

ConnPIRG wants all that investment put towards public transit, like the rail system. This week, the Governor said the plans aren't choosing one over the other.

"I've said do both,” said Malloy. “Our plan calls for a 41 percent increase in bus service in the state of Connecticut. It calls for full modernization of the rail system."

There is also the question of why widen from New Haven towards Rhode Island, a stretch that doesn’t get as much traffic as the southwestern part of the shoreline.

Malloy still believes this stretch needs help.

"When you have a two-lane as opposed to a three-lane you're that much more subject to accidents and the like, and if you use that system on a Thursday or a Friday or a Sunday or Monday morning you know how bad that system is,” said Malloy.

This project is in the early planning stages. That’s why Preston believes the discussion needs to happen now.

The Malloy administration says the first priority is to get a transportation lockbox passed in this upcoming session.

That would make sure funds allocated for transportation projects, like the widening, would remain there.