M. Jodi Rell – Wrote to senators

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has lobbied two key U.S. senators to keep transportation funding flowing from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut.

Rell wrote to U.S. Sens. James M. Jeffords, I-Vt., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., to urge the lawmakers not to alter formulas that determine Connecticut’s share of funding in the six-year $318 billion Senate version of transportation funding legislation.

Jeffords and Reid are lead senators on the House-Senate conference committee working to reconcile differences between versions of the bill passed earlier this year in the Senate and House.

Rell wrote to the senators last Friday on the recommendation of the state Department of Transportation, said James Boice, the agency’s bureau chief of policy and planning.

“Connecticut’s highways experience one of the highest travel densities in the nation,” Rell wrote. “Connecticut also has older and deficient highway and transit infrastructure.”

Rell urged the senators to not change the formula that returns to states a minimum of 90.5 percent of the revenue they generate from the federal gasoline tax. Raising that minimum to 95 percent, as some states want, would reduce the amount of money left over that is awarded to states based on their transportation needs.

Connecticut relies heavily on the need-based part of the funding because of its heavy traffic and the age of its infrastructure, Boice said.

The House version calls for about $284 billion in spending and the Senate version holds $318 billion.

Within those numbers is a political contest over percentages. States like Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Iowa would lose historic advantages if their share of the pot is diminished, critics charge.

For Connecticut, the bill includes $2.76 billion for highway programs over the next six years, and another $647 million for state transit programs. Included in the highway money is about $103 million for more than 40 special projects around the state. (AP)