PORK: tastes good but not the greatest for
a healthy diet (or budget)! Or transport system.
Movable New Haven Line drawbridges a concern
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published 06:40 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, 2011
On Jan. 14, Metro-North Railroad's oldest movable span on the New Haven
Line, the four-track Walk bridge in South Norwalk was covered with snow
and ice and became stuck all four times it was opened to allow passage
of ships into Norwalk Harbor, Metro-North President Howard Permut said.
The first two openings of the 114-year-old movable South Norwalk
bridge, at 6:30 and 9:36 a.m., were made to allow ice-breaking ships to
pass, resulting in rail delays of 50 minutes and 1 hour and 17 minutes
when the bridge got stuck open, according to Metro-North records. In
the evening, the bridge got stuck again at 6:49 and 9:17 p.m.,
remaining open 40 and 36 minutes in those instances.
The episode is one example of the need to overhaul four of five New
Haven Line movable bridges, which are more than a century old and often
become stuck as they await replacement or major upgrades, Permut said.
The fifth span, the Peck Bridge over the Pequonnock River in
Bridgeport, was replaced in 1998 and generally operates well, the
"I want to emphasize first off that the bridges are safe but the
operations of opening them and maintaining infrastructure of such
advanced age is pretty expensive," Permut said. "Whenever the bridges
are stuck there are serious delays."
The challenge to maintain the Walk span and three other older bridges,
in Greenwich, Westport and Devon, is heightened by frequent openings
dictated by a federal requirement, Permut said; the railroad must move
the spans on demand for commercial vessels, and at regular intervals
for recreational craft, particularly during boating season from April
"There is no way the government is going to let us turn them into
stationary bridges because the waterways have to serve the maritime
community," Permut said.
In 2010, the five movable rail spans failed to close about 70 of 747
times they were opened, causing about 75 delayed trains, with that
unreliability directly linked to their age, Permut said.
In 2010, the Cos Cob bridge over the Mianus River saw 26 malfunctions
during 406 openings, while the Devon bridge had 16 malfunctions during
108 openings, the Saga bridge in Westport had six in 31 openings, the
Walk had five in 206 openings, and the Peck bridge had four
Because bridge malfunctions cause extended service disruptions,
Metro-North keeps a maintenance squad of six bridge mechanics,
engineers, and others on hand for each of hundreds of annual bridge
openings on the New Haven Line to address any emergencies, a cost
neither boaters nor the federal government defray, Permut said.
"Keeping equipment and infrastructure this old in working order is a
considerable investment and if we didn't keep the maintenance crews on
hand the delays would be much much longer," he said. "When we need to
open the bridges there is, besides the manpower issues, the higher
probability that the bridges will not work and stop service."
The bridges are subject to differing rules governing opening and
closing, changes adopted a decade ago when Metro-North sought relief
from some bridge opening requirements during peak hours, Permut said.
In the case of the Walk bridge, Metro-North has received some relief
after the U.S. Coast Guard approved new regulations allowing the bridge
to stay down weekdays between 7 and 8:45 a.m. and 4 and 6 p.m.
Additional restrictions on opening bridges during peak times would help
prevent rail delays and wear and tear on the aging bridges, Permut said.
The state Department of Transportation is designing projects to revamp
the Walk bridge, built in 1896, and the Saga bridge, built in 1904.
Plans for both are about 60 percent complete and are to be ready for
public bidding in February 2014, DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said.
A recently study concluded the Devon Bridge, built in 1905, will need
full replacement, while a study to be completed in October will
consider whether to rehabilitate or replace the Cos Cob bridge, he said.
"Throughout the years, all of these bridges have experienced issues
with their mechanicals and that is to be expected of bridges of this
age," Everhart said. "To date, Metro-North's capable maintenance forces
have responded when such problems arise and have been able to correct
them as expeditiously as possible to keep our rail riders moving and to
meet the needs of the maritime community."
Regulations governing opening and closing of moveable bridges vary from
bridge to bridge said Lt. Judson Coleman, chief of the Waterways
Management Division of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.
"We need to provide for the safety of navigable waterways and ensure
that reasonable needs of navigation are accommodated," Coleman said.
Malloy being pressed to OK his
mass transit project
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
February 18, 2011
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is faced with his first major transportation
policy decision: After a dozen years of planning, should the state
proceed with its first true rapid-transit project, a $570 million
Hartford-to-New Britain busway?
With a press conference today, environmentalists, regional planners,
and business and labor representatives stepped up efforts to nudge
Malloy to give his OK for a busway already approved for major federal
"This is a project that can happen tomorrow," said Rep. Tim O'Brien,
D-New Britain. "It is a project that is ready to go--almost."
The final call is Malloy's.
The governor repeatedly has endorsed increasing the state's investment
in transportation infrastructure, especially mass transit, as a way to
immediately produce construction jobs and eventually encourage economic
But advocates say that Malloy, who took office Jan. 5 and met with the
busway's advocates a week later, has neither embraced nor rejected the
Hartford-to-New Britain project, which has generated opposition as it
has drawn closer to construction.
"At the moment, the governor is focused on his budget, but would like
to get everyone in a room - those who are for the busway, those who
oppose the busway, and the DOT - and hash this out once and for all,"
said Colleen Flanagan, his communication director.
Michael Nicastro, the president of the Greater Bristol Chamber of
Commerce, launched an advertising campaign last fall opposing the
project, calling it too expensive at an estimated $60 million a mile
for the 9.4-mile busway.
The legislature's transportation committee held a public hearing today
on a bill that would transfer unexpended funds for the project to
develop rail service from Waterbury to Hartford.
"What does this do for Bristol and Waterbury?" Nicastro said in an
interview before he testified.
Peter E. Lynch, a retired railroad manager who says he reviewed the
project on behalf of Sen. Eilieen Daily, D-Westbrook, said rail service
on the same right-of-way would serve a broader area for less cost,
since much of the rail infrastructure is in place. He also challenged
assertions that federal funding would cover 80 percent of the cost of
Lyle Wray, the executive director of the Capitol Region Council of
Governments, a regional planning agency, said a dedicated busway is
considered state of the art for a medium-density region.
And with service every 5 to 10 minutes, Wray said, the project would be
Connecticut's first true rapid-transit system and build ridership in a
way that limited rail service to Waterbury would not.
The 9.4-mile busway would run mostly along a rail right-of-way from
Hartford to New Britain, bypassing a congested stretch of I-84 that
slows to a crawl every morning and evening.
"It gets through the bottleneck," Wray said.
The buses could continue on local roads beyond New Britain to Bristol
and Waterbury. Local loops would connect to Central Connecticut State
University in New Britain and the convention center in Hartford to the
system, Wray said.
Jeff Merrow, the business manager of Laborers Local 661, said Malloy's
approval could quickly generate 900 jobs for a hard-hit construction
"We are hurting," he said.
Bill Millerick, president of the New Britain Chamber of Commerce, and
Gerry Amodio of the New Britain Downtown District, said rapid transit
to Hartford would open downtown New Britain to housing and other
Mayors Pedro Segarra of Hartford and Tim Stewart of New Britain are
boosters of the project. With little notice, the town council of
Newington voted recently to oppose the project, which passes through
that town and West Hartford.
But opponents are urging Malloy to review the project in the context of
how it complements or conflicts with the rehabilitation of the I-84
viaduct, a 4,000-feet-long raised section of highway near Aetna in
Hartford that needs to be rebuilt. It is adjacent to the busway route.
"This simplies the rehabiliation of I-94, because the busway would not
be there," Lynch said in tesimony prepared for the public hearing.
Wray said that BRTs, or bus rapid transit, are cheaper to build and
maintain than rail and are more flexible. They also would complement
the high-speed rail contemplated for the Boston to Washington corridor,
with an inland route passing through Springfield, Hartford, New Haven
and on to New York.
The push for high-speed rail, which has picked up support from
congressional Republicans who see the Northeast as, perhaps, the only
region where rail eventually could be economical, is welcome, but it is
a decade away, Wray said.
Transit projects typically take 14 years from proposal to completion.
If Malloy gives his approval, the busway would fall within that time
frame, he said.
Wray said he and other advocates are frustrated that New Englanders
seem adept at fantasizing about mass transit projects, but flinch
making the commitment to construction.
"This is a no-brainer," Wray said. "This is not a monorail to Enfield."
State lawmakers discuss
proposals for tolls
Updated 12:59 p.m., Friday, February 18, 2011
HARTFORD (AP) -- State lawmakers are hearing mixed opinions about
whether tolls should return to Connecticut highways after more than two
At a public hearing Friday before the General Assembly's Transportation
Committee, supporters said tolls would raise the money needed to fix
state roads and bridges. But representatives from some border
communities said tolls create a financial burden for local residents
who cross into neighboring states. They also argued that tolls hurt
local businesses and lead to more wear and tear on local roads.
Several bills have been offered to reinstate tolls. Proposals include
open tolls on the state's major highways along the borders; building EZ
Pass toll stations to collect fees from large cargo trucks, and placing
tolls on new highways or new highway extensions.
Truck hits overpass on Merritt
18 August 2010
FAIRFIELD (AP) -- Connecticut state police have issued a citation to
the driver of a tractor-trailer that struck an overpass on the Merritt
Parkway, which is closed to commercial truck traffic.
Troopers cited 28-year-old Curtney Davis of Woonsocket, R.I., for
driving a commercial truck on a parkway after Tuesday's mishap at the
North Avenue overpass in Fairfield near the Westport line.
No one was injured, but traffic was tied up for hours.
State police say the truck was carrying about 50,000 pounds of flour
headed for Rhode Island. Troopers say part of the truck collapsed onto
the highway after the collision.
A state inspector examined the flour sacks to see which ones had to be
Davis couldn't be reached for comment. His phone number isn't listed.
Tractor trailer bursts into
flames on Interstate 95 in Westport (shown
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/16/2008 08:22:18 AM EST
Firefighters put out a tractor trailer that burst into flames just
after midnight Tuesday as it drove south through Westport on Interstate
95, according to the Westport fire department.
Around midnight the driver said he was travelling between exits 17 and
18 when he heard a popping noise, followed by smoke filling the cab of
the truck, according to the fire officials.
When firefighters arrived the cab was fully engulfed in flames,
Westport Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kepchar said.
About a dozen firefighters on three engines doused the blaze, which
closed the two right lanes of the highway, Kepchar said.
The driver escaped without injury, according to the fire department.
Firefighters placed absorbent booms to sop up diesel fuel leaking from
two damaged 100-gallon tanks, and notified the Department of
Environmental Protection due to the fuel spill, according to fire
The Connecticut Tank Removal Company collected the remaining fuel from
the tanks, according to Kepchar.
Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 11:40 UK
A protest organiser said the public
had been "very supportive"
A protest by hundreds of lorry drivers
farmers over the price of fuel has caused traffic chaos for
A convoy of lorries and tractors is travelling slowly
along the A30 in Cornwall between Hayle to Launceston.
The drivers' action comes at the end of the Whitsun
half-term break, when thousands of people are trying to leave the
county to go home.
A separate fuel price protest on the A30
between Launceston and Lifton in Devon has also taken place.
A BBC Radio Cornwall reporter at the scene of the main
protest said the convoy was travelling at less than 10mph and traffic
appeared to be gridlocked.
"There's just lorries as far
the eye can see"
Pete Atkinson, eyewitness
"On just about every slipway and bridge there's another
bunch of lorries waiting to join," Michael Taylor said.
Neil Hart, who operates a haulage company in Pool,
Redruth, with 22 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) took part in the protest
because he could no longer afford the fuel prices.
"In the past year it's cost £200,000 more in
diesel," he said.
"That's about £16,000 a month extra and we just
can't pass any more on to our customers.
"What we need is a rebate of 25p per litre."
Bill Harper, one of the organisers of the Devon
protest, said although he was not planning to lay anybody off, he was
worried about the situation.
'Message to government'
He owns an animal feed business in Holsworthy and is
responsible for more than 30 vehicles.
Mr Harper said the Devon protest was beginning to
disperse, but about 250 drivers had sent a "short, sharp message" to
"I'm pleased because the response from the public has
been very supportive, despite the tailbacks," he said.
Motorist Pete Atkinson said: "Looking from the bridge
at Launceston towards Lifton, there's just lorries as far as the eye
"No-one's going anywhere fast."
Devon and Cornwall Police said drivers could delay
their journeys until later in the afternoon or use alternative A roads
to avoid the protests.
A police spokesman said the situation was currently
being monitored and the convoy was being kept to a single lane to allow
other road users to pass.
An owner of holiday cottages in Cornwall, who did not
want to be named, told the BBC some of his guests were upset at the
timing of the protest.
"The weather hasn't been brilliant this week, but most
people have still had a lovely holiday," he said.
"I understand why the lorry drivers are protesting, but
at the same time I worry that if holidaymakers have a really bad
experience going home, it might make them think twice about coming back
Earlier this week, hundreds of road hauliers staged
fuel protests in London and Cardiff.
They have said businesses are being driven to the wall
by the high cost of diesel and have called on the government to abandon
a planned 2p rise in fuel duty.
Bloomberg Creates a Task Force
Advocate for U.S. Infrastructure Needs
By RAY RIVERA
Published: January 20, 2008
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attacked Washington politicians on Saturday
for what he called short-sighted, politically motivated spending while
the nation’s roads, bridges and airports fall apart.
“Infrastructure isn’t sexy or glamorous, and it doesn’t make for great
headlines,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Los Angeles, “but it is one of the
most important issues facing our country.
“And make no mistake about it, we have an infrastructure crisis.”
Joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, and
Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, the mayor announced
the creation of a nonpartisan organization that will advocate for more,
and smarter, federal spending on infrastructure.
The organization, Building America’s Future, will comprise elected
officials and others, and it will be financed by the Rockefeller
Foundation, a frequent collaborator with the mayor on pet projects.
Drawing on images like the levy failures in New Orleans, the bridge
collapse in Minnesota and the nation’s congested airports, Mr.
Bloomberg said China, Malaysia and other countries were investing in
infrastructure at higher rates than the United States.
As he lashed out at Congress, his possible presidential ambitions
seemed never far from the surface. While maintaining that he is not a
candidate, the mayor met with Clay Mulford, who was Ross Perot’s
campaign manager and is an expert at third-party ballot access, in
Austin, Tex., during the first leg of his trip on Friday.
Building on the nonpartisan theme he has cultivated since at least
June, when he dropped his Republican affiliation and became an
independent, Mr. Bloomberg took aim on Saturday at party bickering,
saying it had contributed to the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
“In politics, winning elections and protecting a party majority is more
important than solving problems,” he said. “So short-term pork
invariably wins over long-term investing, and the special interests win
over the rest of us.”
situation sounds like CT when then-Gov. Rowland did the lay-off thing
and got the unions angry enough to get him to resign (and go to jail)
before he was impeached...
Toll Plan; Ready for His Budget?
By DAVID W. CHEN
Published: February 24, 2008
TRENTON — His grand plan to save New Jersey from fiscal purgatory is in
tatters. More residents than ever before are unhappy with him. And
things are unlikely to get better anytime soon.
After a difficult week in which he had to admit that he lacked the
legislative support to raise tolls sharply, Gov. Jon S. Corzine is
poised to unveil a budget on Tuesday with at least $2.5 billion in
spending cuts and probably a steeper drop in revenue than expected.
“The budget address is going to be nothing but bad news,” said James W.
Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public
Policy at Rutgers University. “And it will have a much broader impact
than simply the tolls. Unfortunately, the budget address has the
capacity to make virtually everyone in the state unhappy.”
Mr. Corzine is expected to propose a budget of $33.5 billion, or maybe
less, that threatens to spare few, if any, areas — not higher education
or hospitals or local governments.
officials and lobbyists say he is also considering shrinking the state
work force by at least 3,000 employees through buyouts or early
retirement packages, and closing as many as three departments. No
wonder he expects a backlash from interest groups that, in prosperous
times, would be allies.
“We are going to hold our spending at flat, or even reduce it, in the
budget that I present, but that has to obviously impact some of those
things that I think the public wants to see,” the governor told
reporters after an event in Princeton on Thursday. “There’s a real
tension that goes with trying to correct problems.”
For Mr. Corzine, the grimness of his assessment was matched by the
realization that his ambitious plan to reduce the state’s debt and
finance transportation, on which he has staked much of his first term,
has been rejected by legislators and taxpayers.
Under his original plan, the state would help to create a nonprofit
corporation empowered to raise up to $38 billion in bonds, backed by
toll increases of 50 percent every four years from 2010 to 2022 on the
New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.
That money would pay down half the state’s debt of $32 billion and
establish a steady stream of financing for transportation projects.
But in the last several days, the governor watched powerlessly as one
Democratic legislator after another offered a buffet of alternatives
that could be called, collectively, Anything-But-Corzine. Last
Wednesday, Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, the chairman of the
Transportation and Public Works Committee, offered the first
comprehensive alternative to Mr. Corzine’s plan.
Mr. Wisniewski, who has opposed the governor’s plan since it was
introduced last month, proposed smaller toll increases as well as an
increase in the gas tax — now one of the lowest in the country, at 14.5
cents a gallon — by 18 cents over three years. He also suggested a new
water consumption tax that would finance preservation of open space.
State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, a Democrat from Union County who is a
leading ally of Mr. Corzine, said he was encouraged by Mr. Wisniewski’s
plan, though it would not pay down nearly as much debt as the
governor’s. But the Senate majority leader, Stephen M. Sweeney, said he
would oppose any plan that included an increase in the gas tax.
As the Democrats scrambled to find an alternative to Mr. Corzine’s
plan, the governor’s approval ratings continued to plunge. A New Jersey
poll by Quinnipiac University, made public on Wednesday, found that a
record 52 percent of respondents disapproved of Mr. Corzine’s
Asked Thursday about the status of his fiscal plan, Mr. Corzine seemed
a bit resigned and noted that he did not have the majority of votes
necessary in either the Senate or the Assembly. “I’m not conceding that
it’s dead,” he said in Princeton. “On the other hand, I’m a realist. I
don’t have 21 and 41 votes for this — I might not have any votes for
this.” He said he would look closely at Mr. Wisniewski’s plan.
And while Mr. Corzine insists that there is no causal relationship
between the budget and his plan to raise tolls and lower the state’s
debt, he must perform a juggling act that will require at least two
Complicating matters, tax revenue in December was below projections by
1.7 percent, or $53 million. The January figures have yet to be
released, but administration officials, who required anonymity to
discuss the situation because they were not authorized to speak to the
news media, said they expected a further softening.
Mr. Corzine is notorious for tinkering until the very last minute, and
the budget process this year is even more nerve-racking than usual for
legislators and lobbyists, because of the dire steps said to be under
consideration: eliminating the Departments of Personnel, Agriculture
and Commerce; reducing higher-education subsidies; cutting property tax
rebates for the wealthiest residents; closing state parks; and
shortening hours at offices of the Motor Vehicle Commission.
“We may not get everything I want with regard to these issues,” Mr.
Corzine said, “but if we get a long way down that path, I think we will
make real change, real contributions, to both the present and future of
New Jersey Roads, and Fearing Higher Tolls
By KEN BELSON
Published: February 14, 2008
DAYTON, N.J. — Up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, warehouse managers
like Ray O’Brien are bracing for the worst. Tolls could rise up
to 800 percent under a Corzine plan.
The turnpike is his lifeline, a cheap, reliable and convenient conduit
to the ports, airports and railheads around Newark, through which
billions of dollars of goods pass each year, and a thoroughfare to
deliver those goods along the East Coast.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s plan for steep toll increases on the turnpike, as
well as the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway, was
the last thing Mr. O’Brien, a warehouse manager for the furniture
wholesaler Coaster Company of America, wanted to hear. With the economy
souring and gasoline prices soaring, business prospects are becoming
If transportation costs continue to swell, the exodus of businesses to
counties north of New York City and eastern Pennsylvania is likely to
quicken, businessmen and transportation experts say, undermining New
Jersey’s warehouse and distribution industry, the state’s largest
“These guys made these investments with an understanding that the costs
would be tolerable,” said Martin E. Robins, a senior fellow at the Alan
M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University. “The toll
increases are definitely a threat.”
Higher tolls would not only make it more expensive for Mr. O’Brien’s
workers to get to Coaster’s 438,000-square-foot warehouse near Exit 8A,
but they also would most likely cause the trucking companies that
deliver 10 40-foot-long containers each day — and pick up other
merchandise for delivery — to raise their prices to offset the $186 a
truck would pay to ride the length of the turnpike in 2022. Currently,
they pay $23.
Mr. O’Brien is scheduled to renegotiate in April with the trucking
companies that deliver crates of furniture to his warehouse. “They’re
going to be talking to us about the toll increases,” Mr. O’Brien said.
“Someone’s going to pay for it, and it’s not going to be them.”
While current tolls on the turnpike are well below the national
average, if Mr. Corzine gets his way, they would rise by as much as 800
percent by 2022 to pay down the state’s $32 billion debt and to finance
Simply put, the turnpike would go from being one of New Jersey’s great
bargains to one of its biggest burdens, and in turn could spell trouble
for companies that in the last few decades opened the vast warehouses
lining the highway near exits 7A and 8A. Companies, including Johnson
& Johnson and Mercedes-Benz, have leased millions of square feet of
space there because of its easy access to the ports and to their
Joseph S. Taylor, chief executive of the Matrix Development Group —
which builds and leases warehouses and is partly responsible for the
quadrupling of commercial space near Exit 8A — has had a front-row seat
to the migration.
As it is now, Mr. Taylor said that about a quarter of the companies
that consider leasing space from Matrix end up in Pennsylvania, up from
5 percent a decade ago.
“It was a trickle in the 1980s, a stream in the 1990s and a flow in the
2000s,” he said.
The toll increases alone will not push companies to move elsewhere, he
said. But combined with rising labor costs and taxes, congestion and
environmental red tape, companies — particularly those that ship many
products outside the New York area — are going to think about how to
bypass New Jersey.
“These guys are going to go where there are prices they can handle,”
Mr. Taylor said.
BabyAge Inc., an Internet retailer, made that decision four years ago
when it left its cramped quarters in Secaucus, N.J., and bought a new
warehouse in Wilkes Barre, Pa., just off Interstate 81, not far from
its intersection with Interstate 80.
In addition to lower real estate prices, tax breaks and an affordable
hourly work force, said the company’s chief executive, Jack Kiefer, the
cost of receiving containers that arrive from the West and the South
has fallen because the trucks that deliver them do not have to go
through New Jersey to reach his warehouse.
“We moved 110 miles west, but our savings on shipments from Charlotte,
Indiana or California have decreased because it’s such a hassle to
drive through New Jersey,” Mr. Kiefer said. “If we were still in New
Jersey, they would pass the tolls along to me. As soon as they drive
past the Delaware, there’s a higher premium.”
To be sure, transportation costs are just one factor that companies
consider when deciding whether to sign a 10- or 15-year lease on a
warehouse. Rents, taxes, adequate space and a reliable stream of
well-trained workers are equally important, if not more so.
And while truckers heading to eastern Pennsylvania, where dozens of
companies have moved, can avoid tolls on Interstate 78 and Interstate
80, they must travel farther and spend more on fuel. In addition,
congestion on those roads has increased because of the commuters who
share the roads with tractor-trailers. Pennsylvania is also awaiting
federal permission to introduce tolls on Interstate 80.
Moreover, it is possible that Mr. Corzine will reduce the size of his
planned toll increases, which include four 50 percent rises — one every
four years through 2022 — on top of annual inflation adjustments,
because of opposition from trucking companies and drivers who rely
heavily on the turnpike.
In some parts of the state, truckers are expected to leave the parkway
and the turnpike for local roads to save money, should the Legislature
approve Mr. Corzine’s plan. But for the vast number of truckers who go
back and forth between the port, the airport in Newark and the railhead
in Kearny, there are few practical alternatives to the turnpike.
Bradley I. Abelow, Mr. Corzine’s chief of staff, is aware that the
higher tolls will cut into truckers’ profits and will ultimately be
passed on to their customers, but he says that truckers will benefit
from the additional investment in the state’s roads, bridges and
“The truckers and folks in the shipping business — their livelihoods
are attached to what their costs are of being on the road,” Mr. Abelow
said. “We need to find a way to invest in capital in our transportation
infrastructure, and the truckers are going to bear part of that cost.”
Mr. Abelow said that although he expected trucking companies to pass
along some of the toll increases to their customers, he hoped that the
predictable schedule of increases would give them time to prepare.
At the same time, it could also give companies time to consider
alternatives when the leases on their warehouses come up for renewal.
Or, as often happens, they may simply raise their prices to compensate
for higher trucking costs. But with consumers already hit with a
slumping home market, higher gas prices and a weakening job market,
companies may find it hard to raise prices.
“There’s no question about it, they’re not going to eat the higher
tolls,” Craig Phillips, senior vice president for distribution at
Lifetime Brands, said of the trucking companies as he stood in the
company’s 772,000-square-foot warehouse in Robbinsville. “But it’s not
going to be easy to pass it along in this economy.”
Tolls Plan Is
Dead Unless Revised, Corzine Is Notified by Opponents
By DAVID W. CHEN
Published: February 9, 2008
TRENTON — Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s plan to sharply raise tolls is all but
dead, according to influential Democrats and every Republican state
legislator, who have warned that he has to modify his plan
substantially if he expects to win their support.
Mr. Corzine’s plan to raise up to $38 billion in bonds by increasing
tolls 50 percent every four years from 2010 to 2022 had been criticized
by various Republicans since it was unveiled last month, but on
Thursday all 49 Republican state legislators declared their opposition.
More jarring to Mr. Corzine was the defection on Thursday of three
notable Democrats, including his former colleague in the Unites States
Senate, Frank R. Lautenberg, and State Senator John H. Adler of Camden
County, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
On Friday another Democrat, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., who
represents the shore communities in the central part of the state, said
Mr. Corzine’s plan should be changed because it “seems to
disproportionately place the burden on the residents of counties that I
In the face of growing opposition, Mr. Corzine has spoken more
frequently about the possibility of altering his plan, perhaps with a
combination of smaller toll increases and an increase in the gasoline
tax. That has not appeased many of the people who attended town
hall meetings this week in two heavily Republican counties, where Mr.
Corzine was received with catcalls, boos and even personal insults.
Then on Friday, more than 700 opponents of the plan rallied outside the
State House, led by the same radio station that helped foment
opposition to a tax increase initiated by Gov. Jim Florio 18 years ago
in a campaign that forced Mr. Florio out of office.
in the corner office isn’t listening!” roared Casey Bartholomew, who is
one-half of the talk-show duo known as the Jersey Guys on WKXW-FM.
The rally used pig balloons to parody the warning the governor made in
announcing the plan: “Pigs will fly over the State House before there
is a realistic level of new taxes or spending cuts that can fix this
Mr. Corzine has insisted that his ambitious plans for rescuing the
state’s economy were never intended to be the final version, but rather
a first draft in a give-and-take process. Still, allies of Mr. Corzine
say privately that he has been surprised by the level of vitriol, even
though he has lined up support from dozens of influential business
leaders, two Democratic congressmen and former Republican officials
with reputations for fiscal discipline.
But in Trenton, Mr. Corzine’s task is to persuade at least 21 senators
and 41 Assembly members to pass his plan. While he initially said he
wanted the measure establishing a new nonprofit corporation to issue
bonds and manage the state’s three toll roads — the New Jersey
Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway — approved
by mid-March, he conceded this week that June is more realistic.
“The governor has tried to do a lot, and in politics that’s tough to
do,” said State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, a Union County Democrat.
“But we have to scale back the governor’s plan a little bit.”
When asked Thursday night after a town hall meeting in Atlantic County
about possible alternatives, Mr. Corzine said: “I haven’t settled on
any alternative, but I’m listening to people, and I’ll try to come up
with a proposal that actually can get 21 and 41. I’ve always said this
would be a heavy lift to do it just exactly like I said it. So we have
to make sure that we solve our problems, and many people want some
Mr. Corzine’s apparent willingness to compromise is likely to be a
relief to many Democrats, especially those whose districts are close to
the toll roads. For now, however, it is a cause for concern.
Even Congressman Steven R. Rothman, who represents mainly Bergen
County, and United States Senator Robert Menendez both tread carefully
when asked if they support Mr. Corzine’s plan. While the two Democrats
gave him credit for tackling the persistent fiscal mess, they
questioned whether his plan offered the best solution.
Representative Bill Pascrell, whose district embraces a swath of North
Jersey, went further, saying the governor’s plan was unfair to his
constituents because they would bear much of the cost.
“I would recommend changes to the governor’s proposal to provide a
greater degree of equity,” he said. “It is important that all New
Jerseyans, regardless of what roadway they reside near, be required to
share in the burden of restoring fiscal solvency to the state.”
According to Mr. Lesniak and aides to Mr. Corzine, it is unlikely that
the governor will offer any specific changes to his plan before he
presents an austere budget for the next fiscal year on Feb. 26, which
is expected to include more than $2 billion in cuts. Mr. Corzine
has already warned that just about every sector — education, the arts,
hospitals, municipalities — will be squeezed by the budget, which will
freeze state spending at last year’s level of $33.5 billion.
Such stringent cuts may prompt some opponents to restore spending in
various areas, Mr. Lesniak said, and then look at Mr. Corzine’s toll
plan in a new light. It seems likely, he said, that in the end, the
governor will have to accept retiring less debt and getting less for
As the Senate president, Richard J. Codey, put it: “He’s trying to do
the right thing, and I support his efforts to right what’s wrong. But
to go down the road of fiscal restructuring, we need a different
at the Toll Booth
Published: January 19, 2008
As states and cities look to their roadways to generate badly needed
money, the state of New Jersey is offering an approach worth studying.
Gov. Jon Corzine wants to shore up his state’s troubled finances by
sharply raising tolls. If he gets his way, the cost of driving most of
the turnpike could eventually rise from $5.85 to $48, providing money
for both debt reduction and public transportation. The plan has
potential pitfalls, but it may well be the best solution to a difficult
New Jersey is drowning in $32 billion in debt, a legacy in large part
of previous governors and legislators who approved generous
public-employee contracts, and other costly programs, without paying
for them. The state also faces critically important transportation
needs, including widening the traffic-clogged New Jersey Turnpike. In a
high-tax state like New Jersey, coming up with additional revenue is
Mr. Corzine has called for raising tolls by 50 percent every four years
between 2010 and 2022. One mitigating factor for New Jersey residents
is that about half of the turnpike’s drivers are from out of state. The
average drive on the turnpike is only two or three exits and far
cheaper than the full fare. There also may be discounts for low-income
drivers and commuters who use the highways frequently. Still, it is a
whopper of a toll increase.
New Jersey is hardly the only cash-starved jurisdiction to look on
tolls as a possible salvation. Indiana and Chicago have leased some
toll roads to private companies. Pennsylvania is considering such an
arrangement, and California is scrambling to find revenue sources to
repair its highways and bridges. Mr. Corzine is avoiding the mistakes
of the worst of these plans.
Rather than handing the state’s roads to an unaccountable private
entity, as Indiana did in a hugely controversial 75-year lease, he is
proposing to turn the highways over to a highly regulated public
corporation. It would sell $38 billion in bonds, which would be paid
off by toll revenue. Almost half the money would pay down the state’s
debt. The rest would go to transportation, including a large chunk for
Mr. Corzine says the legislation, which has yet to be unveiled, would
prohibit governors from meddling in operations or reducing the toll
increases. These are necessary safeguards. The proposal also calls for
a public oversight board — to be appointed by the governor, with input
from the State Legislature.
The Legislature, controlled by Mr. Corzine’s fellow Democrats, will
have to sign off. Legislators need to make sure that there are
sufficient guarantees that the public corporation will work in the
public interest. They should also work with Mr. Corzine on the other
part of his proposal: putting in place measures to end the
irresponsible spending that produced this financial mess.
The toll increases will hit many residents of New Jersey hard. But if
the details of the plan come out right, including the protections for
those least able to pay, they will be worth the pain, and New Jersey’s
remedy could become a standard for other fiscally troubled states.
Increases in New Jersey Would Be
Steep, and the Debate Will Be Fierce
By KEN BELSON and DAVID W. CHEN
Published: January 12, 2008
Driving the family car on the New Jersey Turnpike from the Lincoln
Tunnel to the Delaware Memorial Bridge — just about the length of the
highway — could rise to $48 from $5.85. For truck drivers, navigating
that same stretch of highway would soar to $186 from the current $23.
With a sense of resignation in his voice, Ed Daly, who had stopped for
a snack at the Joyce Kilmer rest area, just north of Exit 8A, said,
“Tolls fall heaviest on the working man.”
The fiscal gymnastics Gov. Jon S. Corzine has proposed to stabilize New
Jersey’s sagging economy may lay beyond the reach of many truck drivers
in their semis and parents in their S.U.V.’s. But at least one crucial
element of his plan they understand: his intention to boost tolls
sharply. And they probably don’t know the full extent of it.
If Mr. Corzine’s plan can win the battle for public approval and the
votes of state legislators, drivers will be paying more than eight
times what they pay now by 2022, and New Jersey will go from having
some of the cheapest toll roads in the country to some of the most
The leap in tolls will help reduce the state’s $32 billion debt load
and finance major transportation projects, like the widening of the
turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, and the construction of a second
Hudson River rail tunnel into Pennsylvania Station.
To pay for those and other projects, Mr. Corzine wants to increase
tolls by 50 percent every four years, beginning in 2010 and ending in
2022. Tolls would also rise up to an additional 3 percent per year for
75 years to account for inflation. What’s more, the initial toll
increase in 2010 would include four years of inflation adjustments,
backdated to 2006.
Governor Corzine, who has seen opposition to his plan for bailing out
the state mount in the year since he began talking about it, now faces
complaints that the burden on drivers could end up choking the state’s
economy. Commuters, vacationers and truckers rely heavily on New
Jersey’s toll roads to get to and from New York and Philadelphia, as
well as Newark Liberty International Airport, the Port of New Jersey
and the warehouses that line the center of the state.
Trucking companies say they will have little choice but to pass along
the toll increases to their customers, who in turn will probably raise
consumer prices. Working families may end up joining the migration to
North Carolina, Georgia and other states where the cost of living is
lower. And for those who stay, economists say the higher tolls could
mean less money spent at a restaurant or hardware store, or drivers
clogging local roads to avoid the tolls.
“There will be strategies emerging to avoid bearing those costs,” said
James W. Hughes, the dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning
and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
By Thursday, two days after unveiling his controversial plan, Mr.
Corzine was already offering sweeteners to try to gain support — that
he might introduce discounts to regular users of the state’s toll
roads, and the possibility of not turning a busy highway connecting New
Jersey and Staten Island into a toll road, as originally proposed. He
also noted that about half of the people who pay to use the turnpike
are from out-of-state.
That means little to Mr. Daly, a sales manager for a communications
company in Clifton, who said that he traveled the turnpike every day,
spending $50 a month in tolls. Once the first increases take effect in
2010, that would jump to $75, and he would have to absorb the
difference by himself.
“Talk about a regressive tax,” he complained.
Yet as Mr. Corzine said on Tuesday when he unveiled his plan, he had
done the math and was willing to face the consequences. Now he is
bracing for a backlash in Livingston on Saturday, at the first of 21
town hall meetings. He had already provoked some grumbling by making
residents who planned to attend register online or by telephone.
Still, the public meetings will be no consolation for truckers,
particularly for those who own their vehicles.
Walter Krupski, a resident of Stewartsville, N.J., who has been a
long-haul trucker since 1976, says the higher tolls will be a
significant burden. At one time Mr. Krupski, who has his own trucking
company, used to employ several drivers, but he says he no longer does
because of soaring health care costs. Today, Mr. Krupski, 50, is a
self-employed trucker and has no health insurance.
On Thursday, he was on Interstate 81 in West Virginia carrying a load
of beer from North Carolina to New Jersey. He said that that nine-hour
drive would typically earn him $500, and that his profit would be about
$50, after fuel, insurance, tolls and other costs. But if tolls were to
go up as Mr. Corzine plans, Mr. Krupski said he would eventually have
to spend another $13, cutting his profit by more than 20 percent.
“It’s eventually going to dribble down to the consumer,” Mr. Krupski
said. “Goods and services in New Jersey are going to go up because of
this.” As he put it, “You can take a little hit, a little hit, but
sooner or later you got to get that money back or else you’re going to
go out of business.”
More than anything, truckers want to know when the tolls will go up and
by how much, and since the increases are not scheduled to go into
effect until 2010, they have time to factor the higher costs into
negotiations with their customers.
“If you increase one of my costs in 30 days, I can’t go back to the
shippers,” said Matthew Wright, the chief executive of Apgar Bros., a
midsize trucking company in Bound Brook, who is president of the New
Jersey Motor Truck Association. “At least I know what I’m dealing with
it and I can sit down with a shipper. Just having the predictability is
a useful tool.”
Mr. Corzine’s chief of staff, Bradley Abelow, said he was aware of the
burden the higher tolls would have on the state’s businesses, but
insisted that the payoff was worth the financial pain.
“The truckers and folks in the shipping business — their livelihoods
are attached to what their costs are of being on the road,” Mr. Abelow
said. But, he added, “we need to find a way to invest in capital in our
transportation infrastructure, and the truckers are going to bear part
of that cost.”
Still, the majority of the 680 million vehicles that travel the
turnpike and parkway each year are not trucks, but cars driven by
Ron Willever, a driver for a car service, who was at the Vince Lombardi
stop on the turnpike on Thursday afternoon, put it this way, “You might
as well just sell your car.”
Proposes Steep Rise in Tolls
By DAVID W. CHEN and KEN BELSON
Published: January 9, 2008
TRENTON — Gov. Jon S. Corzine proposed the biggest financial maneuver
in New Jersey’s history on Tuesday, arguing that drastically increasing
highway tolls over the next 15 years could generate as much as $38
billion to help the state pay off half its debt and finance
Drivers would face a 50 percent increase in tolls on the state’s three
toll roads — the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and the
Atlantic City Expressway — every four years, beginning in 2010. The
tolls would rise further with inflation. In addition, a portion of a
fourth highway — Route 440 leading from the intersection of the
Turnpike and the Parkway in Woodbridge to the Outerbridge Crossing —
would become a toll road.
“It’s not something I want to do,” Mr. Corzine said in his State of the
State address before the new Legislature, whose members were sworn in
earlier on Tuesday. “It’s something we have to do. This proposal is a
solution — a solution to restore the state’s financial integrity,
health and capacity.”
To carry out his proposal, Mr. Corzine, who made his fortune cobbling
together complex financial deals on Wall Street, would need the
blessing of the markets to embrace a bond issue that would dwarf the
largest bond deal ever undertaken by the state, an $8.6 billion issue
in 2003 for school construction.
While a number of states, including Pennsylvania and California, are
struggling to come up with the money to repair their roads and bridges,
fiscal experts say Mr. Corzine’s plan to repair its transportation
infrastructure and halve its $32 billion in debt is the most unusual
and complicated among states that have considered leveraging their toll
roads to generate more money, fiscal experts say.
But unlike Indiana or Chicago, which have leased some roads to private
companies, New Jersey would continue to own its toll roads. To minimize
political interference, Mr. Corzine said the state would establish two
nonprofit corporations, one to operate and maintain the roads, and the
other to provide oversight.
Anticipation over the plan has been building since Mr. Corzine first
suggested the need to draw money from New Jersey’s assets in his State
of the State message a year ago. But Mr. Corzine has been delayed in
rolling out his plan, first by a serious car accident in April, then by
his own propensity to take his time making decisions.
With polls consistently showing that most New Jerseyans opposed the
idea of refinancing the toll roads, Mr. Corzine has encountered stiff
resistance from Democrats and Republicans alike.
But now Mr. Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who was
elected in 2005 after campaigning largely on his financial acumen, has
vowed to stake his political future on his plan. To sell it, he plans
to hold public meetings in all 21 counties, with the first to take
place on Saturday in Livingston, an affluent and educated suburb that
Democrats say might be more receptive to Mr. Corzine’s ideas.
And with the state grappling with debt that has climbed from $13
billion to $32 billion in less than a decade and with the highest
property taxes in the country, Mr. Corzine said that New Jersey could
wait no longer.
“The public must be put back in charge of the state’s credit card,” he
said. “Unfortunately, the ability to borrow is a privilege that’s been
abused to the point that the public has pretty much told us they no
longer trust our judgment.”
To win this battle, he plans to spend part of his vast wealth on public
service announcements for television and radio promoting his plan. And
he challenged legislators — a third of whom were sworn in Tuesday — to
adopt his proposal before the July 1 budget deadline.
If the state fails to enact his plan, Mr. Corzine warned, the
alternatives include raising the gas tax by at least 12 cents a gallon,
the income tax by 20 percent or the sales tax by 30 percent.
“Do the numbers,” he implored. “I have.”
As he put it, “Pigs will fly over the State House before there is a
realistic level of new taxes or spending cuts that can fix this mess.”
Under the plan, a public benefit corporation, which would operate and
maintain the roads, would be created to issue up to $38 billion in
bonds to generate a quick cash infusion. The bonds, which would be
issued in stages within a year of legislative approval, would be backed
by the toll revenues.
In addition, a public interest corporation would be created to monitor
and approve the directors of the other corporation.
In an effort to assuage fears that politicians and lobbyists may view
his plan as creating a giant piggy bank, Mr. Corzine said that all the
proceeds would be used for two purposes only: reducing the state’s
debt, which could save as much as $960 million a year in annual debt
payments, and replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund for capital
and repair projects, which is scheduled to be depleted by 2011.
For the average driver on the Turnpike, the governor said, the proposal
would mean that the typical one-way trip — spanning three exits — would
go from $1.20 to $2.05 in five years, and to $5.85 in 10 years.
To make his case, Mr. Corzine pointed out that the state’s toll roads
were among the least costly in the nation. Tolls have increased on the
New Jersey Turnpike only five times in its half-century history; the
last increase, of 17 percent, was in 2003. The Garden State Parkway,
the nation’s busiest toll road, has had one increase in its
half-century history, in 1989.
To demonstrate that he was serious about fiscal restraint, the governor
also pledged to freeze state spending in next year’s budget at the
current level, and to push for a constitutional amendment requiring
voter approval for most future borrowing.
Mr. Corzine will need approval from the Senate and the Assembly, both
controlled by Democrats. On Tuesday, the top two legislators — Senate
President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. —
embraced the governor’s proposals.
“I think it was a tremendous home run for him today,” Mr. Roberts said.
“If we can minimize the politics and maximize the degree to which this
is a policy discussion, the governor is going to be successful.”
For their part, Republicans said that while they were pleased by Mr.
Corzine’s pledge to freeze spending, they viewed the proposed toll
increases as taxes on drivers.
Senator Jennifer Beck, a Republican from Red Bank, said the governor’s
plan amounted to “decrying the credit card mentality but yet then
proposing to take out a Visa platinum card to pay for the fiscal woes
of the state.”
“No one should be fooled,” she added. “You’re borrowing to pay for
borrowed money. It’d be like taking out a home equity loan to pay for
your mortgage. It’s the wrong way.”
Corzine to Tour
State for Plan to Cut Debt With Toll Roads
By JEREMY W. PETERS
Published: January 1, 2008
Gov. Jon S. Corzine is hitting the road to build public support for his
much-anticipated plan to reduce New Jersey’s debt by refinancing the
state’s toll roads.
The tour, a campaign-style swing through all 21 counties, will give New
Jersey residents their first chance to question Mr. Corzine about the
plan, which he has said he will unveil in his State of the State speech
It has been more than a year since Mr. Corzine promised to deliver the
financial restructuring plan, his administration’s most ambitious and
Though he often has described the toll-road refinancing idea as the
most effective way to cut the more than $30 billion state debt in half,
little is known about what such a plan would include.
In general, it would involve borrowing money by using toll increases as
collateral. Tolls on state roads including the New Jersey Turnpike and
the Garden State Parkway would rise considerably in the years ahead,
but Mr. Corzine has not specified by how much or when...
Each stopped driver makes road
KEN DIXON Kdixon@ctpost.com
Article Last Updated: 01/18/2008 09:45:47 PM EST
My idea of a happy morning commute consists of one or two things. It's
immediately a good day if I pass a truck stopped on the highway
shoulder by a State Police trooper in the midst of writing a nice, fat
All those tractor-trailer rollovers during Interstate 95 rush-hour
commutes are never, ever, caused by trucks operating at the
55-miles-per hour speed limit.
A superb morning, upon which the sun shines through cloud cover, is the
occasional day when some idiot passes me on the parkway at about 80
miles per hour and I see him — it's almost always a man — stopped
around the next curve by an unmarked state police cruiser.
I can never figure out why someone would be in a hurry to go to work.
Another theory of mine is that the amount of time aggressive drivers
save while terrorizing those of us who merely exceed the speed limit by
5 miles per hour is lost in their eventual, inevitable emergency room
visit and hospitalization after a collision.
They're collisions, not accidents.
It's not an accident when an idiot weaving in and out of traffic
sideswipes someone on Route 8 or an aggressive driver cuts off another
vehicle on the Merritt Parkway and causes it to flip.
An accident is when a tree keels over in a high breeze onto the roadway
and a car crashes into it.
The very best kind of morning commute occurred last week, when not one
but three speeding idiots were pulled over, in a row, by unmarked state
police cars on the parkway. I saluted the law-enforcement scene. Then,
a half hour later, I called State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance to see if
the action was a vestige of the speeding and aggressive driving
crackdown that the state Department of Transportation funded last month
and into the New Year.
sure whether the DOT money was still there last week, or if it had been
used up, but the undercover units remain active.
Just during the New Year's holiday weekend there were nearly 300
accidents, 39 with injuries, 61 DUI arrests, 808 speeding arrests, 136
seat belt violations and 855 hazardous-moving arrests, state police
"The program through and over the holidays was extremely successful
from the arrest standpoint," Vance said over the phone last week. "We
have an aggressive-driving unit within the traffic squad and what we've
done focuses on that type of behavior."
These troopers blend into traffic and observe violations and dangerous
drivers in their natural habitat, as opposed to setting up speed traps.
Vance said the daily summonses are significant.
"Utilizing this approach, we think has a positive impact in addressing
the aggressive-driver issue," Vance said.
Another new twist in the realm of nonviolent highway retribution is
If you're tired of being bullied, intimidated and pushed around on
state highways, take heart, because you or your vehicular companion can
use cell-phone technology to call down the state police on drivers who
may be threatening you.
Wherever you are, you can just call 911 and the connection rolls to the
nearest state police barracks.
If you can identify the aggressive vehicle, include its marker number,
location and direction. Chances are the barracks can dispatch vehicles
to witness and intercept the offender.
"The classic at night is the high-beams push and tailgating to
intimidate," Vance said, adding that while each investigation is
different and according to a trooper's individual observations, charges
can rise from speeding to reckless driving, requiring a court
appearance to answer a Class A misdemeanor.
Reckless driving can mean higher insurance premiums, fines, multiple
court appearance and even prison for the self-involved rolling road
hazards. That's the kind of negative reinforcement these dangerous
Even if you're alone while calling on a hand-held phone, you
won't violate the face of the law because police can view it as an
emergency that's allowed under the law against drivers using
hand-helds. "Ideally, get the license-plate number if you can see and a
description of the car," Vance said. "Call us and tell us about
hazardous moving violations and we can put a trooper in position on an
exit or entrance ramp or overpass."
With a cell phone, it's never been easier to protect yourself from
aggressive drivers. And if more safe drivers take action, maybe we can
take back the roads.
Rolls Over Near Fatal
Accident Site (shown above)
By Matthew Clark
Published on 11/3/2007
East Lyme - A tractor-trailer traveling northbound on Interstate 95
rolled over Saturday afternoon, leaking fuel and shutting down the
highway at Exit 75 for the second time in as many days. No other
vehicles were involved, and no injuries were reported.
Police are diverting northbound traffic onto Interstate 395 via Exit
76, then take the Route 85 exit and go left off the offramp. The I-95
interchange is four miles up, past the Crystal Mall.
On Friday morning, a tanker truck, tractor-trailer and four cars were
involved in a crash that resulted in three deaths and the spilling of
thousands of gallons of diesel fuel onto the highway.
Interstates 95 and 395, along with a section of Route 1, had been
closed since Friday morning as the result of the earlier accident,
which spilled thousands of gallons of fuel onto the highway and into
Workers from the state Department of Environmental Management were in
Latimer Brook this morning in row boats, moving around booms before the
worst of the storm arrives. Up to 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel made its
way into the brook.
Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday the driver of a tanker truck carrying
thousands of gallons of diesel fuel lost control of the truck while
traveling in the northbound side of I-95 and crashed through the
guardrail into southbound traffic. The tanker struck a tractor trailer
causing a collision with four passenger vehicles. Three people were
pronounced dead and three others were injured and taken to local
The state police are asking anyone who observed the crash to call Troop
E at (860) 848-6500.
The new look in traffic control - or
Across the pond...or in our own
The road ahead for pay-as-you-drive
By John Ware, Presenter
BBC, 7 March 2007
Road pricing proposals have provoked a storm of protest but what
is the alternative in easing congestion?
Downing Street's website may have melted under the 1.8 million
petitioners opposed to the government's national road pricing scheme
for dealing with congestion. But how would the petitioners stop
the UK from being the most extensively traffic congested country in
Many argue for the traditional "predict and provide" approach to
traffic growth: more road building, more parking and removing bus
But are these credible alternatives to dealing with our insatiable
desire to drive more vehicles more frequently to more places? Indeed,
there is credible evidence that such measures only exacerbate
congestion by inducing extra traffic.
Certainly the decline of public transport - especially the bus in rural
areas - has made people much more car dependent, a trend exacerbated by
planning support for some out-of-town developments and the government's
"big is beautiful" approach to the closure of thousands of post
offices, scores of hospitals and hundreds of police stations, not to
mention the scarcity of school buses.
But people have also become hooked on unnecessary car use.
The Department for Transport says a quarter of journeys under two miles
are by car which may explain why in the last decade, the number of
walking trips per person fell from 292 to 245 and why there are now
more households with at least two cars than with no car.
The anti-road pricers make no mention of the pluses of road pricing
claimed in the recent Treasury commissioned study by former BA chief
Sir Rod Eddington: congestion cut by half, £28bn a year benefits
to bus and rail users.
Unless demand is controlled, by 2025 the DfT forecasts that car use
will grow by 40%. Computer modelling suggests that will double the time
we spend in congested traffic.
All this is a very far cry from John Prescott's vision in 1997 in which
he said he would regard himself as having failed had he not reduced car
use within five years. The clear message was: our rapid growth in hyper
mobility was unsustainable and major road projects were put on hold.
In December 1999 Mr Prescott promised: "We're going to have a transport
system to rival the best in Europe" (only to telephone a senior
official the next day for the facts and figures about how far behind
Europe our transport system was).
But the following year his 10-Year Plan for transport restored the
emphasis on mobility and revived road building. Motorists were promised
traffic could grow whilst congestion would be reduced by up to 6% by
"The arithmetic didn't add up" said Professor Phil Goodwin, a key
Prescott adviser. "The more traffic there is, the slower it goes. It's
a fundamental law of traffic but it looked for a while as if the
government had found a way to abolish it."
Mr Prescott did get powers for local authorities to introduce
congestion charging at their discretion - provided they got approval
from ministers. But a later transport minister John Spellar tried to
sabotage London Mayor Ken Livingstone's plans to introduce the
The 10-Year Plan was effectively laid to rest within two years by the
then Transport Secretary Alastair Darling announcing a 20% rise in
congestion by 2010 rather than the 6% reduction that had been promised.
He also announced a new £3bn roads scheme: "The government is
listening to motorists and is committed to getting our roads moving
Now the government has returned to where they started when they took
office: that it's never going to be possible for road building to keep
pace with traffic growth and that the only way to control that is
Road pricing trials will take place in several urban areas in about
five years, although the DfT appears to have excluded the most
congested sections of the strategic road network from these trials.
Meanwhile, their target for reducing congestion - a 3.6% increase in
journey time in the 10 largest urban areas by 2010-11 - is a "weak
ambition" says the Transport Committee.
Road pricing, anyway, will not be "the silver bullet" which eliminates
congestion. The public transport system will need to be hugely
expanded. A 5% reduction in road traffic may equate to a 50% increase
in demand for bus and rail services.
To absorb this extra demand - and ahead of the road pricing - public
transport will need to be much more attractive. But by 2005 in real
terms bus and coach fares were 42% and rail fares 39% higher than in
1980 whereas the overall cost of motoring is 9% below 1980 levels.
As it is the DfT is well adrift from its 2010 target to increase public
transport by 12% compared with 2000 levels in every region of England,
a target which itself displays a "lack of ambition" says the Transport
"Are we there yet?" on the roads? Answer: "not yet" and at this rate
That's what I call "shovel ready (r)"
project under way in Norwalk
Updated 11:17 a.m., Wednesday, June
NORWALK -- With shovels in hand near
the southbound on-ramp near exit 14, officials broke ground Wednesday
morning on a project that will widen a stretch of Interstate 95 that
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called one of the worst bottlenecks in the state.
The three-year, $42.3 million
project, scheduled for completion in February 2015, will add an exit
lane to I-95 southbound from the Route 7 connector that will extend
2,300 hundred feet to exit 14 at Connecticut Avenue.
Malloy, Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia
and state Sen. Bob Duff took part in a ground-breaking ceremony across
the street from Swanky Frank's hot dog stand on Connecticut Avenue.
Malloy, a frequent visitor to Swanky
Frank's, said watching exiting traffic backup onto the thruway was
"frightening." He added that if a horrible accident happened on the
road he was worried that the state may have been found culpable because
the road design connecting Route 7 to I-95 was so sub-standard.
Another 2,100-foot auxiliary lane
will be added to the interstate's northbound lanes from the northbound
Scribner Avenue entrance to exit 15 at the northbound entrance to the
The exit 14 southbound ramp will be
widened to three lanes and three highway overpass bridges will be
replaced at Cedar Street and Taylor and Fairfield avenues to
accommodate the wider highway, plans state.
The construction of new and wider
sidewalks along Connecticut Avenue is also in the plans.
State Department of Transportation
officials say preliminary work has minimal impacts to traffic and
construction requiring lane closures will begin immediately.
No road closures have been announced.
Above: Photo at CT POST website
I-95 reopens after Darien
Updated 02:44 p.m., Saturday, May 7, 2011
STAMFORD -- State police are investigating the cause of a
tractor-trailer accident that shut down Interstate 95 northbound for
more than six hours Saturday morning.
There are multiple reports of fatalities, but it is not clear how many
at this time.
Shortly after 6 a.m., a container truck rolled over on top of a sedan
and burst into flames near Exit 10 in Darien.
Noroton Heights Fire Chief Ron Riolo said the fire was extinguished
quickly and none of the occupants of either vehicle required to be
Riolo said the accident ranks among some of the worst he has seen on
the highway, which at one time was one of the most accident-prone
stretches of I-95 in the state.
"It wasn't good," Riolo said. "It was a mess."
Ron Hammer, director of Darien EMS-Post 53 said the occupants were
taken to both Stamford and Norwalk hospitals, but he would not say how
many people were involved.
The accident caused a massive traffic backup in I-95 through Greenwich
and snarled traffic on local roads in Darien and Stamford.
No easy solutions to
mess that is I-95
CT POST editorial
created: 06/01/2006 04:29:11 AM EDT
The issue of highway safety on Interstate 95 in Fairfield County — one
of the most heavily traveled expressways in America — is in the
headlines once again, with the failure of state officials to act
aggressively on the problems being underlined anew.
The latest look at traffic conditions onI-95 comes from The Advocate of
Stamford, which analyzed recent state Department of Transportation data
on the highway and found that the portion of I-95 from Greenwich to
Stratford has the highest accident rate in the state involving heavy
The analysis also found that truck accidents account for a larger
percentage of fatalities on I-95 than any other highway in Connecticut,
but also notes that most highway accidents in the state involve only
The analysis was similar to one undertaken by the Connecticut Post in
2004 after a fiery crash in Bridgeport between a passenger car (that
was later found to be at fault) and an oil tanker destroyed a newly
rebuilt overpass, causing more than $10 million in repairs.
What's perplexing is that media studies of the "highway to hell"
periodically point out the problems and complaints from commuters who
daily utilize the highway continue to mount, but state officials make
only a modicum of safety improvements.
Through the years, we have been convinced that three steps must be
taken to help improve conditions on I-95:
l The expressway simply has too many exits and entrances, which lead to
slow moving traffic on many portions of I-95. Yet, the General Assembly
has never displayed the intestinal fortitude to close any exits and
entrances because lawmakers are fearful those closings will be in their
districts. Re-election is more important than safety.
l The state truck weigh station on I-95 in Greenwich needs to be open
more hours than it currently is. Again, this is a perennial issue in
the Assembly that lawmakers continually shove aside, including some
from down county communities who don't want trucks evading the weigh
station on their local streets.
Yet, there's ample evidence that the weigh stations are a key in
finding safety problems with trucks that could contribute to accidents.
l The state must move commuters in cars and freight carried by trucks
on I-95 on to mass transit. This is the area in which the two past
governors and the Assembly have taken the most encouraging action,
especially in the past two years where we are witnessing bipartisan
movement to upgrade commuter rail lines.
Yet, the state is not moving swiftly enough to reestablish rail freight
lines and initiate Long Island Sound barges for cargo, 90 percent of
which is now carried by trucks.
Of course, drivers, especially automobile operators, using I-95 and
other state highways need to travel at posted speeds and State Police
must continue their speed enforcement efforts.
There aren't simple answers to resolving I-95's traffic and accident
problems, but a few steps toward solutions have been out there for too
long a time without positive action.
crash causes lane closure
By Martin B. Cassidy
Published March 7 2008
Traffic was backed up for more than two hours at the Greenwich-New York
border yesterday after a chain-reaction collision involving four
tractor-trailers just south of the weigh station on Interstate 95 shut
down two lanes of the highway.
State police cited Christopher Ducey, 54, of Rhode Island, with
following too closely in the 10:30 a.m. crash after his truck struck a
second tractor trailer waiting in the right lane to enter the
inspection point, pushing it forward into the rear of another waiting
truck which in turn rear-ended a fourth, according to a Connecticut
State Police report.
"The trucks were entering the weigh station and he wasn't able to slow
down," Connecticut State Police Trooper William Tate, a spokesman for
the agency said.
None of the truck drivers was injured in the crash, state police said.
Three of the trucks suffered damage to their cabs and spilled 30 to 40
gallons of motor oil, transmission fluid and anti-freeze onto the
highway, said Cyndy Chanaca, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut
Department of Environmental Protection.
State Police closed the center and right lanes of the highway,
reopening the center lane at noon, Tate said.
Greenwich firefighters used absorbent pads to contain the liquids,
Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Zack said.
Connecticut Tank Removal, a DEP clean-up contractor, cleaned up the
spill, keeping the right lane of the highway to remain closed until
12:45 p.m., Chanaca said.
"We were able to clean it up and there was no environmental concern,"
Neway Transport of Johnston, R.I., the owner of the truck driven by
Ducey, could not be reached for comment.
In October, the state expanded the number of eight-hour shifts at the
Greenwich weigh station as part of a crackdown on truck safety
As part of the effort state troopers continue to open the station at
unposted times around the clock to keep the inspections random, Tate
"We continue to keep the station open at irregular times so it is
unexpected," Tate said.
major injuries in I-95 crash
By Natasha Lee
Published May 10 2006
STAMFORD -- A class of Naugatuck sixth-graders were treated for minor
scrapes and bruises after their charter bus slammed into the back of a
tractor-trailer near Exit 6 on Interstate 95 yesterday afternoon,
according to authorities.
"It was a horrible scene, there was crying and screaming," said parent
Nancy Schebell, whose 11-year-old son, Michael, was unscathed.
Capt. Mike Robles from the Stamford Fire & Rescue said firefighters
used the Jaws of Life to remove the bus' passenger door and opened and
emergency window on the passenger's side to help people off the bus.
"We tried to calm everybody down and we took care of the kids first,"
said teacher Steven Dibble.
The Cross Street Intermediate School students were returning from the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The northbound
tour bus was in the middle lane when it crashed into the rear of the
truck, after the truck abruptly locked its brakes to avoid hitting
another car, authorities and witnesses said. All 44 passengers
aboard the bus, including 10 chaperones and teachers, were evaluated
and released from Greenwich Hospital, hospital spokesman George Pawlush
said. Those injured suffered from bumps, bruises and contusions, but he
could not verify the number of passengers specifically treated for such
The driver and the passenger of a Nissan Maxima involved in the
collision were taken to Stamford Hospital. Their injuries are believed
to be non-lifethreatening, according to police and fire authorities. A
nursing supervisor at Stamford Hospital could not provide further
The bus driver was taken to Stamford Hospital, according to Lt. James
Heavey of the Greenwich Police Department. The truck driver declined
medical treatment. The accident is being investigated by state
The collision occurred when a dark blue Nissan Maxima zipped from the
left lane crossing over the three-lane interstate. The driver of the
Maxima is believed to have swiped a Jeep, according to a state trooper
who declined to be identified. The Jeep left the scene, authorities
said. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Rafael Irizarry, said he
was driving in the middle lane when he saw the Maxima dart across and
immediately tried to stop.
"Everything happened so fast. I had enough time only lock my brakes,"
he said. Irizarry said the rear-end impact of the bus lifted him from
his seat and caused him to strike his head on the truck's roof. The
bus' front windshield was smashed.
"He hit me very, very hard," Irizarry said.
Northbound traffic before Exit 6 was narrowed down to one lane for
close to 90 minutes as Greenwich and Stamford firefighters and medics
worked to clear the bus, Heavey said.
trucker survives plunge off highway
RICHARD WEIZEL firstname.lastname@example.org
created: 05/10/2006 04:31:23 AM EDT
NEW HAVEN — A Bridgeport truck driver swerving to avoid a collision
with a Honda on Interstate 95 jumped a bridge abutment near the West
Haven line Tuesday, dangling in his rig over the side of the overpass
before the truck plunged 25 feet to the ground in front of horrified
But somehow Samuel Lopez, 43, of Norman Street, not only survived the
noontime accident at exit 44 in the southbound lanes, but he also was
conscious after the cab of his 15,000-pound truck hit the ground,
according to witnesses. He suffered leg and head injuries, witnesses
said, but they did not appear life threatening.
Lopez, driving a tractor-trailer for Royal Environmental Co. of
Bridgeport, was rescued by three men who witnessed the crash, with one
saying he couldn't believe the driver was still alive when they pulled
him through the shattered windshield.
Lopez and the driver of the Honda, Solomon Kalkstein, 29, were taken to
Yale-New Haven Hospital. Kalkstein was treated and released, while
Lopez was admitted with unspecified injuries, according to a hospital
Witnesses said the Honda rolled over at the scene after cutting in
front of the truck, which spilled more than 100 gallons of diesel fuel
along the highway and on the grassy area below. "It's just a miracle.
There was no way I thought the driver of that truck could have possibly
still been alive when we ran to try and pull him out," said Angel
Ramos, of West Haven, who was driving a few cars behind of the truck.
Ramos said he was "horrified" to watch it crash through the guardrail
and linger over the side. "I drove my car off at the exit and parked
near to where the truck was actually suspended from the highway, and my
first thought was that the truck was going to explode," Ramos said.
"With two other men, we pulled the driver out of the cab, and he was
disoriented, but talking."
Several agencies responded to the scene of the crash, including the
West Haven Police and State Police, as well as the state Department of
Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation. A nearby
towing company, Tony's Long Wharf, worked nearly three hours to pull
the massive truck off the highway.
Some of the towing company's employees said they watched from their
Kimberly Avenue office as the truck toppled off the highway.
"There was this incredibly loud sound, like an explosion," said Tammy
McKenzie, a dispatcher. "Then I looked out the window and watched as
the truck went on this wild roller-coaster ride. I couldn't believe
what I was seeing."
State police spokesman Sgt. J. Paul Vance said the exit 44 offramp was
closed for several hours after the accident, and that traffic was
backed for miles on the highway and along surrounding streets.
DEP spokesman Dennis Schain said his agency responded because of the
diesel fuel spilling from the cab. "But the truck company is hiring a
contractor to clean up the oil," he said, "and it appears the cargo was
Repeated calls were made to the truck company. A woman who answered the
phone declined to comment.
Kelly McNeil, who was serving drive-up customers at McDonald's, also on
Kimberly Avenue, said she suddenly heard "such a loud crash that it
literally shook the entire McDonald's. I didn't know what to think. It
Giovoni Negron, of Ansonia, said he was walking along Kimberly Avenue
when he watched the truck come "barreling over the highway and onto the
grass. I was expecting to see the guy dead, but I guess it just wasn't
cruiser hit by tractor-trailer in Newtown
Posted on Jun 4, 7:41 AM EDT
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- A state trooper has been rushed to a hospital
after his cruiser was hit by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 84 in
The trooper's name and condition have not been released. State police
Lt. J. Paul Vance says the trooper is being treated at Danbury Hospital
and the injuries are not life-threatening.
Authorities have closed the eastbound side of the highway near Exit 9.
Major traffic backups are being reported.
A state police dispatcher says the trooper was responding to a car
accident shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday and had parked the cruiser when
the accident happened.
brings I-84 to halt
By Chris Gardner, Copyright © 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
MIDDLEBURY -- Traffic came to a standstill for almost eight
hours on Interstate 84 Monday after a flatbed truck crashed just before
A 54-year-old man apparently had a heart attack and died as the truck
he was driving hit a car, rammed a guardrail and then darted into the
The accident backed up traffic for miles on both sides of the
highway throughout the afternoon and into the early evening. It caused
major problems for motorists, especially during the evening rush hour,
which was four hours after the accident occurred. It took hundreds,
maybe even thousands of drivers, more than two hours longer than usual
to reach their destinations.
James Rose, of Bayville, N.J., was westbound about 12:54 p.m.
when he lost control of the truck near the Christian Road overpass,
about a half-mile mile east of Exit 16, police said. The driver of the
car, Alistair J. Baptiste, 43, of Danbury,
was not injured, and the 2001 Nissan Altima he was driving had only a
scrape on its left side.
A state trooper and firefighters from Southbury were the first to
arrive. Because diesel fuel was leaking from the truck's saddle
no one wanted to use an electronic defibrillator for fear a spark would
ignite a fire, said Paul Perrotti, Middlebury fire chief.
Southbury firefighters spread foam around the truck, which is
by Demase Warehouse Systems Inc. of Lyndhurst, N.J., so Rose could be
taken from the truck's cab and shocked with the defibrillator. Efforts
to revive him failed.
Witnesses first tried to help Rose, who was unresponsive in the cab.
Troopers closed one of the two eastbound lanes while they investigated.
The westbound lanes were backed up close to 15 miles, all the way past
the Queen Street exit in Southington.
The accident was cleared at 6 p.m.; the truck was towed by Karas Motors
But by then traffic was the heaviest it had been all day and
there were massive jams everywhere because of the evening rush hour.
Driving westbound on Interstate 691, motorists were backed up past
Cheshire, almost into Meriden, around 5:30 and it took 45 minutes or
more just to reach I-84.
When they finally got to I-84, they crawled into
bumper-to-bumper traffic and actually came to a complete stop several
times. It took more than an hour to get from the I-691/I-84 interchange
just to Waterbury.
A fender-bender involving a tractor-trailer and a car at the
Exit 24 westbound off-ramp on I-84 around 6 didn't help.
Many travelers tried to wind their way around streets in Cheshire,
Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury to find alternate routes only to get
themselves backed up on those streets as well. Some of the off-ramps
were so backed up motorists couldn't even get off of the interstate.
The new state law banning cell phone use while driving was
ignored by many who were calling others to say they'd be late, just
wanted to pass the time away as they sat in traffic, or wondered why
there was such a tie-up.
Tim Baldwin, Southbury fire chief, said local roads on the
side of Southbury and in Middlebury were clogged with cars and trucks
that got off to avoid the congestion. At times, eastbound traffic was
backed up almost into Newtown.
There were reports of minor fender benders on both sides of
interstate, including a five-vehicle chain reaction crash on the
Weston roads the aim of police spot road checks
By JEANNE HOFF
November 2, 2006
WESTON — More than a year after a dump truck with faulty brakes
barreled into traffic on Route 44 in Avon, Weston Police Chief Anthony
Land says inspection of commercial trucks by a town officer has been
successful in reducing the number of potentially hazardous vehicles on
Land said he felt driven after the deadly 20-vehicle crash on July 29,
2005, to take action and improve truck safety on town roads.
That day, the driver of a 12-wheeled dump truck, owned by American
Crushing and Recycling, lost control of the truck and struck vehicles
waiting at an intersection — resulting in a chain of fiery collisions,
which killed four people, including the truck driver, and injured 14
A subsequent investigation revealed that the truck had a history of
Land said in 2005 he sought to have officers within the Weston Police
Department licensed to inspect commercial trucks as they travel along
However, it was not until 2006 with a nearly full house, Land said,
that an opportunity came along to have an officer fill the need.
Weston Police Officer Travis Arnette was assigned to commercial truck
inspections after completing training in Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulations and becoming certified to conduct North American Standard
Levels of Inspections.
Arnette, a former Westport Police officer, joined the Weston Police
force in 2004.
Arnette could not be reached for comment. His inspection form submitted
to the Department of Public Works for the month of October shows that
he has cited several truckers for being in violation of state and
"Travis has stopped 11 different trucks and taken some of them out of
service," Land said "He finds their brakes don't work, the lights don't
work and things that should not be taped down."
Three out of the 11 trucks were taken from service, and one fined
$7,000 for a variety of violations.
Arnette, who has the authority to stop commercial carriers for random
inspections has discovered: Plastic tie-wraps used to secure gas tanks
to the frame, duct tape used to secure a front-end metal grill, low
tire pressures, use of a bungee cord to hold up hydraulic hoses, lack
of windshield washer fluids, a coat hanger used to hold up muffler, and
severe rust, among other violations.
Trucks are inspected along Route 57 and Route 53.
The Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety —
at the urging of Gov. M Jodi Rell, following the 2005 accident —
implemented several initiatives to improve truck safety in Connecticut.
A nine-month comparison study conducted by the DMV and the DOT showed
that the number of serious violations declined as authorities increased
their presence and began conducting random and announced roadside
The study revealed that the number of inspections conducted from July
28, 2004, to April 30, 2005, and from July 28, 2005, to April 30, 2006,
increased from 11,666 to 16,614.
"It's very important to keep our roads safe," Land said. "One just
needs to look at last year's horrible tragedy in Avon, Connecticut, to
recognize the importance of this effort."
Lawmakers Call For Changes After Fatal
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published on 7/31/2005
(AP) — State officials plan to take a hard look at the laws regulating
trucks in Connecticut following Friday's accident in Avon that left
four people dead.
A dump truck with a history of brake and other safety problems lost
control going down the steep grade of Avon Mountain on Route 44 and
slammed into cars and a commuter bus, causing a fiery chain-reaction
that involved 20 vehicles and 30 people.
Four people remained in critical condition Saturday. Police said it
could be Monday before they release the names of the four people killed.
No charges had been filed, but Avon police and the state Department of
Motor Vehicles were investigating the safety record of the truck's
owner, American Crushing and Recycling LLC of Bloomfield, formerly
known as Wilcox Trucking Inc.
State inspectors last year found five brake violations on the dump
truck. The Mack truck, which was temporarily taken out of service after
the brake violations were found, was also cited in December 2002 for
three violations involving axle problems. One required the truck to be
taken off the road, according to DMV records.
The company provided documents showing those problems had been fixed,
said DMV spokesman Bill Seymour. He declined to say Saturday if the
state has found anything that would warrant action against the company.
“We are working with Avon police and have a number of different
enforcement tools at our fingertips,” he said. “We will document what
needs to be documented and then take any action that we deem to be
Messages seeking comment were left Saturday at the company's office.
State Rep. Antonio Guerrera, the co-chairman of the legislature's
Transportation Committee, said he plans hearings on whether the state
needs to improve safety inspections, lower speed limits or ban trucks
from steep-graded roads such as Route 44.
“If we could avoid an accident like that, if that truck that isn't on a
road with such a steep grade, that's something maybe we should
consider, whether there are alternatives that would be better for
trucks,” he said.
Sens. Tom Herlihy, R-Simsbury, and Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford,
whose districts include Route 44, sent a letter Friday asking the state
Department of Transportation to study safety issues on the highway.
They want the department to look at measures such as lowering the speed
limit and adding warning lights and possibly a runaway truck lane.
Citing police reports, they say there were 23 accidents at the
intersection in 2002, 18 accidents in 2003 and 14 accidents in 2004.
“We do know this area has a history of bad accidents,”
Michael Riley, head of the Connecticut Motor Transport Association,
said the trucking industry also favors a close look at whether more can
be done to prevent accidents.
But he said the state already has one of the best inspection systems in
the nation, and he believes lowering the speed limit for trucks would
“I think they should lower the speed limit for everyone and
enforce it,” he said.
Friday's crash was the latest in a series of high-profile truck
accidents in Connecticut.
Earlier crashes melted bridges, shutting heavily traveled highways such
as Interstate 95 that are the gateway from New York to New England.
“There's too many cars and too many bad drivers on roads that are
designed for fewer cars and slower driving,” said state Sen. Bill
Finch was neighbors with some of the seven killed in 1983 when a truck
plowed through toll booths and rammed several cars in Stratford. The
state began dismantling toll booths after that crash.
Despite some high-profile accidents, the number of highway fatalities
in Connecticut has declined in recent years. Last year 289 people were
killed in crashes, compared with 343 in 2000 and 386 in 1990, state
Amtrak Bridge Closure Moves To
By Katie Warchut
Published on 2/16/2008
The Coast Guard is moving ahead in planning a June closure of the
Thames River when Amtrak replaces the moveable span of its railroad
bridge between New London and Groton.
Though previous plans were for a 20-day closure in May, Coast Guard
officials agreed that delaying it a month would give Amtrak more time
in case the project runs into any delays.
Recreational boating advocates were worried about the closure affecting
Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the boating season, while Cross
Sound Ferry officials said the month is a bad time because its vessels
are being painted at Thames Shipyard's dry docks, north of the bridge.
Both parties will be affected nonetheless, as June will see more
recreational boaters, and ferries could need servicing at the shipyard.
According to current plans, the bridge will be in the closed position
from June 3 to June 13 while the bridge's 4-million-pound counterweight
is removed. The channel will be open only to vessels that can pass
under the bridge's 30-foot vertical clearance.
The channel also will be closed from the morning of June 14 to the
evening of June 17. During that time, however, there will be a 36-hour
window — after the old span is removed, but before the new span is
floated into place — when vessels would be able to pass through.
Between June 18 and June 20, the channel again will be open but limited
to the 30-foot clearance, while the new bridge is fixed in the closed
position so that lifting cables can be installed.
The Washington Group International, contract managers for the project,
after discussions with waterway users, agreed to shave two days off the
original project schedule by using a bigger crane, though it will only
shorten the time period of the first part of the project, when the
bridge remains closed.
Thames River users have told Amtrak it should do everything it can to
ensure the closure does not affect the Fourth of July holiday.
The annual Harvard-Yale Regatta, which takes place on the Thames
upriver from the bridge, is scheduled during the closure, on June 14.
Rather than use the current drawbridge-style opening, the new bridge
span will move vertically between two towers, like an elevator, to
allow marine traffic to pass underneath.
Amtrak, meanwhile, still plans to shut down its northeast corridor from
New Haven to Boston for the four days when the bridge span is replaced.
Despite concerns from railroad passenger advocates, tourism officials,
and state and federal officials, Amtrak still has no plans to offer an
alternative to passengers, an Amtrak spokesman confirmed Friday.
The Coast Guard expects to submit a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”
soon. The notice is published in the Federal Register and typically
gives 60 days for public comment from any interested party, and an
additional 30 days for reply comments.