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Connecticut Receives $238,000 In Funds For Transit Projects

DON STACOM

March 05, 2010

When federal officials handed out $600 million for transit projects across the nation Friday Connecticut pulled in just $238,000.

Thirty-eight other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all landed more money than Connecticut, mostly to buy new buses, build bus garages and passenger shelters, and upgrade subway and light rail infrastructure.

Coming soon after the state's disappointing showing in other nationwide competitions for federal stimulus grants, the announcement Friday drew concern from state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, co-chairman of the General Assembly's transportation committee.

"I see this as disappointing and disheartening. This is beginning to establish a bit of a pattern we have to ask why Connecticut isn't doing better," DeFronzo said.

Last month, the state lost out completely in the race to get a share of $1.5 billion in stimulus funds for freight rail upgrades, highway reconstruction, bridge repairs and other transportation aid. Even though the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery grants were intended mostly for densely developed regions with pollution and highway congestion, Connecticut lost out to such remote states as South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

State Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie acknowledged last week that the TIGER shutout was disappointing, and promised state lawmakers he'd find out what went wrong for Connecticut.

Friday's announcement by Vice President Joe Biden was for another $600 million in stimulus grants being awarded for mass transit infrastructure. About 40 states got a share; Connecticut wasn't excluded this time, but finished almost at the bottom of the list of winners. Only Alaska, which received $140,000 to buy a bus, got less. Connecticut's $238,000 is targeted for improving the park-and-ride lot in Marlborough.

"By any measure of equity, we should have done better," DeFronzo said. "Rhode Island got $13.3 million. Oklahoma ... got $4 million."

State transportation officials and Connecticut's congressional delegation could not be reached for comment.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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