The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recently issued a fact-sheet detailing the amount of infrastructure investment Connecticut needs to make in order to receive five times the amount in matching funds from the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). According to the legislation, the state of Connecticut must provide at least 20% of the earmarked funds for the state for it to receive funds from the federal government. For example: Connecticut could receive $25 million in federal funds to replace diesel school buses with electric buses. To receive those funds, Connecticut must match at least 20% of the investment with in-state revenue, or $5 million in this example.
What does this mean? Passing TCI (Transportation & Climate Initiative) legislation is more important than ever if Connecticut wishes to receive the full amount of federal investment dollars allotted for the state. Connecticut would receive over $80 million from TCI in 2023, which could be used to secure over $400 million in matching federal funds. Failure to act on TCI will deprive Connecticut of critical funds to invest in a better transportation future.
WHAT IS TCI-P?
The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a first-of-its-kind, multi-state, bi-partisan effort in the Eastern U.S. to reduce carbon emissions from gas- and diesel-powered cars, diesel-fueled trucks, and other heavy vehicles; and increase investments in an equitable, cleaner, and more resilient transportation system. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia have already signed on to this initiative.
TCI accomplishes five things for Connecticut: (1) greenhouse gas emission reductions from the transportation sector; (2) improvement in air quality and public health; (3) investments in more modernized transportation choices (including bikeways, pedestrian walkways, electric vehicles, and mass transit); (4) job creation and more economic opportunity; and (5) steps towards equity for communities hurt the most by air pollution and underserved by the current transportation system.
What could that mean in Connecticut? Here are some examples of transportation-related projects that would improve quality of life, modernize transit, clear the air and reduce the harms of climate change:
- New Haven Line – Track Speed Improvement Phase 1 - Bridgeport and Stratford Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) - $20 million.
- Stamford Transportation Center Improvement - Stamford Connecticut, Connecticut DOT - $3.5 million.
- Coventry Main Street Sidewalk Project Final Extension - Coventry Connecticut, Town of Coventry - $1.2 million.
- New London Pedestrian Bridge and Public Access Project - New London Connecticut, State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (CT-DECD) - $5 million.
WHY DOES CONNECTICUT NEED TCI-P?
- CONNECTICUT’S TRANSPORTATION CRISIS. Traffic jams, delayed trains and buses, poor access to transit, flooded roads, crumbling bridges, and dangerous intersections diminish our quality of life in Connecticut by making it hard to get around. Under the Transportation & Climate Initiative, commuters will spend 36 billion fewer hours in traffic across the region by 2030, according to the Georgetown Climate Center.
- BETTER HEALTH FOR CONNECTICUT. The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” study shows that our region suffers from some of the most dangerous vehicle-related air pollution levels in the United States. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health released a study earlier this year which found that vehicular emissions caused 367 premature deaths in Connecticut in 2016 ––this regional solution to tailpipe pollution will literally save lives in our state. They also found that full implementation of TCI in Connecticut and other states could prevent up to 1,000 premature deaths and 5,000 childhood asthma cases by 2032. In fact, the health benefits in the Eastern U.S. resulting from reduced vehicle-related air pollution could reach as much as $13.5 billion per year by 2032 or nearly $200 per resident each year.
- PROTECTING CONNECTICUT JOBS. Bad roads, long commutes, traffic jams, deteriorating mass transit, and reduced quality of life are all job killers. Large and small employers suffer from our broken transportation system, and many are unable to keep people working, move goods, and provide services in a way that makes it worthwhile to remain in the region. Analysis by the Georgetown Climate Center found that investing $3 billion to modernize transportation in Connecticut and other Eastern U.S. states and to reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions would create more than 100,000 new jobs in the region and put more than $13.4 billion into families’ pockets in 2030 alone.
- ACTION ON EQUITY. People of color and lower-income communities shoulder a far heavier burden from pollution caused by cars, trucks, and buses. For generations, many modes of transportation—roads, highways, ports, airports, and railroads—were built directly through or adjacent to communities of color and lower income communities. After decades of exposure to the pollution caused by the transportation system, people in these communities are more likely to experience respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health problems and premature deaths. States participating in TCI-P have agreed to invest at least 35% of proceeds to ensure that communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by the transportation system benefit equitably from clean transportation. Leaders in Connecticut have proposed using 50% of the state’s proceeds for this purpose, which would be over $40 million in the first year of the program and nearly half a billion dollars through 2032.
- CONNECTICUT RURAL NEEDS. Some of the biggest pockets of neglect and poverty outside of major metropolitan areas in Connecticut are in remote rural areas, which would benefit greatly from new transportation options, electric vehicle infrastructure, and improved high-speed broadband to increase access to good jobs through remote work opportunities. In the most rural counties, the average driver will save $870 per year and cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3 metric tons per year by choosing an affordable electric vehicle over a conventional sedan, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists report. TCI-P can also help expand access to high-speed internet, which is a lifeline that provides educational access, many necessary services, and professional and social connections, all while cutting lengthy commutes and air pollution. When they have broadband, rural residents get fuller access to telemedicine, are better able to participate in online school or work from home, and can stay better connected to loved ones, and the news – all while driving less, reducing carbon emissions, and saving on fuel.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TCI-P AND CONNECTICUT?
- TCI enjoys broad public support in Connecticut. A December 2020 Yale Climate/Climate Nexus poll of 3,800 Connecticut and other Eastern U.S. voters found the vast majority (70%) of us support the multi-state Transportation & Climate Initiative in a bipartisan way as a means of jumpstarting the struggling economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- TCI-P means freedom from gasoline shortages. The longer we are tethered to dirty gasoline powered vehicles, the more we are at the mercy of big oil and gas companies, their pipeline breakdowns, shortages and manipulated pump prices. Moving to a modernized transportation system for the Eastern United States means more than cleaner air, better health, and less traffic congestion … it also means that we are no longer a victim of big oil and gas company breakdowns, inefficiencies, and price gouging!
- The Business Community Stands Strongly Behind TCI. Many of the biggest employers in our region support TCI-P as a way to cut pollution from transportation and modernize how we get around. More than 100 major employers in the Eastern U.S. – including IKEA US and JuiceBar EV right here in Connecticut, Siemens, DHL, Lyft, Nestle, Ikea, and Wayfair – are urging states to invest in improved and expanded transit service, targeted incentives for cleaner cars, better walking and biking routes, broadband in rural areas, enhanced options in areas that are historically overburdened by pollution and underserved by the existing transportation system, and more.
WHO ARE WE?
Our Transportation Future (OTF) is a diverse coalition of 77 local, state-level and national groups committed to modernizing transportation in the Eastern U.S. In supporting the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program, Our Transportation Future aims to: reduce vehicle pollution and related health problems; create new economic opportunities for people and communities; jumpstart new investments in bikeways, pedestrian walkways, and electric vehicles; and improve public transportation.
For more information, contact: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264 or [email protected]ingsgroup.com.