Apparently the economic vitality of Fairfield County isn’t high on the agenda for Governor Rell. Despite the urging of State Senator Bob Duff, Rell is dodging the Super 7 issue, ignoring the needs of both roads and rails to link Danbury and Norwalk.
Duff said he has urged Gov. M. Jodi Rell to include construction of the Super 7 in her recommendations for infrastructure improvement projects to the federal government.
“If we’re to wisely improve our state’s economic standing, then we must work to reduce our highway congestion problems,” said Duff, vice chairman of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, in a press statement Monday. “Fairfield County is one of the main economic drivers in the state of Connecticut, and we cannot expect businesses to take a solid interest in our area, if one of our primary roadways is clogged, dangerous and inhospitable.”
Duff’s request comes as talk of major infrastructure investment builds in Washington, D.C., as part of the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Communities nationwide have prepared wish lists for federal dollars to pay for local projects. Norwalk this week assembled a list totaling $175 million to be submitted to Washington via the United States Conference of Mayors.
A spokesman for Rell’s office, while saying that the governor will submit her list also, indicated Tuesday that Super 7 will not be on that list.
“The governor is still in the process of putting together the list of shovel-ready projects, and the criteria, we understand … is shovel-ready means that all permits and approvals have been finalized, that all local, state and federal requirements have been met, and that there be a final design for the project,” said spokesman Chris Cooper. “Super 7 does not meet any of those requirements right now. In addition, there isn’t community consensus that the project should be built.”
Cooper said competition for the federal dollars will be intense. As such, Rell intends to put forward for federal funding shovel-ready projects that will create jobs and have immediate benefits, according to Cooper.
Duff rejects that Super 7 isn’t shovel-ready. He said approximately 1,000 acres of right-of-way land currently owned by the state could be “fast-tracked for construction,” if the project is included as part of a federal plan for infrastructure investment.
While discussed for decades, Super 7 ground to a halt in the face of planning, regulatory approval and other hurdles, as well as opposition from Wilton and other communities in its path.
Duff said the federal government’s interest in infrastructure investment “gives us a golden opportunity to finally get this project off the ground.”
“Route 7 has the potential to be the most direct and safe route between upper and lower Fairfield County,” Duff said. “Small improvements are counterproductive; our economic viability depends on this roadway’s completion.”
In his press statement, Duff traced talk of the expressway to 1955, when the Connecticut Highway Department began planning improvements to the Route 7 corridor. Two years later, the state announced that the existing Route 7 would be expanded from two to four lanes, between Norwalk and Danbury, and estimated that the project would be done by 1962, according to Duff.
source: The Hour, Duff wants Super 7 on Rell’s infrastructure projects, By ROBERT KOCH, 12/16/2008