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State Senator

Cathy Osten

Representing Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich & Sprague

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Senator Osten: ‘The Time for Dithering is Over.’

Osten tours three bridges in Norwich to make the case for toll revenue and state investment in roads and bridges

State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) today kicked off her tour of three Norwich bridges to make the case for the creation of electronic tolling in Connecticut to help generate the revenue necessary to fix Connecticut’s massive backlog of road and bridge repairs and upgrades – including those in eastern Connecticut.

There are 332 bridges in Connecticut rated as deficient or worse on the National Bridge Inventory rating scale. Deficient, as defined by Federal Highway Authority, means at least one section of a bridge is rated as poor, meaning it has advanced section loss and major deterioration. 279 of these 332 bridges--84%--have been rated in poor condition. Sen. Osten highlighted the numerous deficient bridges in southeastern Connecticut with a map of the various bridge locations:

SE CT Bridges

A complete list of all the deficient bridges in Connecticut can be found here: http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/brokenbridges

“Polls show there is pubic support and business support for electronic tolling if we put that money toward improving our roads and bridges, which is exactly what we will do,” Sen. Osten said. “The time for dithering is over. Gas tax revenues are flat, our Special Transportation Fund is running out of money, the Federal Highway Administration is running on a shoestring, and Connecticut needs to join the rest of the East Coast of America in creating a fair and reliable source of revenue to keep our motorists safe and to make our businesses more productive and profitable. The alternative offered by some others – to go on a borrowing spree, and put half a century of road and bridge repairs on the state credit card – is fiscally irresponsible. The support is there for tolls. Once we have this new source of transportation revenue, that will free-up other STF monies for projects like road and bridge repairs here Norwich and eastern Connecticut.”

Sen. Osten said recent polls show public and business support for e-toll revenue to repair state roads and bridges:

And former Republican gubernatorial candidate David Stemerman told The Hartford Courant last week that he supports tolls to pay for new congestion lanes: http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-pol-stemerman-capitol-presence-20190403-rvabgrm5ibcw5prl4ozi543st4-story.html

Sen. Osten began her Norwich bridge tour today on Taftville-Occum Road (Route 97) in Norwich where Interstate 395 crosses the Shetucket River and carries 2.75 million cars and trucks every year. Eight sections of that bridge are scheduled for an $8.8 million upgrade to its beams and bearings.

Sen. Osten continued her tour 10 minutes away at the 100-year-old Sherman Street Bridge over the Yantic River at the intersection of Sherman Street and Asylum Avenue in Norwich. In September 2016, the Sherman Street Bridge superstructure was rated “critical” with “advanced deterioration” of its primary steel and concrete structural elements. The bridge’s substructure is rated “poor,” and its bridge railings and approach guardrails don’t meet current safety standards. Located just south of Backus Hospital, the Sherman Street Bridge carries 5,000 vehicles per day and is expected to see local traffic grow 50% to 7,500 vehicles per day by 2035. A $10 million repair of the Sherman Street Bridge is expected to be put out to bid next year.

Sen. Osten concluded her bridge tour at the Pleasant Street Bridge over the Yantic River at the corner of Ortobando Avenue in Norwich. A $2 million rehabilitation of the bridge’s deck and pedestrian sidewalks was just completed last October using federal and local funds.

“Today we looked at a big bridge, a little bridge, and a bridge that’s recently been rehabbed. Every bridge in Connecticut can be safe, modern, and attractive if we commit ourselves to raising new revenue, paying as we go, and only charging people who actually use these roads and bridges– including all of the out-of-state drivers who’ve been getting a free ride for decades on Connecticut highways,” Sen. Osten said. “The time has come to show the leadership that is necessary to bring Connecticut’s transportation system into the 21st Century for the benefit of our citizens and our businesses.”

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