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Investing in Infrastructure
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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Barack Obama has proposed a massive infrastructure investment plan


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52:02 minutes (24.98 MB)
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President-elect Barack Obama has proposed a massive infrastructure investment plan to jump-start the economy and put millions of people to work.The plan is being called the largest public works construction program since the Eisenhower administration started building the interstate highway system.  Obama has talked with state governors, including Jodi Rell, and they've promised to have "shovel-ready" projects lined up to start right away.  

Proponents say this could mean a huge economic lift - while giving us a chance to rebuild our crumbling transportation and energy infrastructure.

But, critics warn that the plan - meant to happen fast, like bank and auto industry bailouts - lacks the larger social vision to create long-term change.

Today, Where We Live, a look at what the new administration's infrastructure plan might mean for Connecticut.

Join the conversation!  What ideas do you have? How could our state capitalize on federal infrastructure funding?  Add your suggestions, questions and comments below.

Listen below to Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and his ideas on how the money should be spent.

Block photo by Daniel Leininger, Flickr Creative Commons

Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez on infrastructure money

1:38 minutes (0.79 MB)
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USA coming out of recession

Speaking for the UK,there are signs we have reached the bottom of the current recession recent data has been encouraging with retail sales showing growth for June and July, housing market stabilising, highest mortgage loans in June since March 2008 and a buoyant stock market.

On the downside unemployment continues to rise with construction and the travel industry in the doldrums. I have been involved in the travel industry since 1989 and I have never known it so bad and the spread of Swine Flu in the UK can only make matters worse.


Dave from Gatwick airport parking

The complex of measures

The complex of measures which will carry the name «the Plan of restoration and new investments> provides allocation of 825 billion dollars. The president has declared, that both parties in the Congress already tensely work on the coordination of details of the plan, and that he is intended to sign the corresponding law. Answering critics of such massive budgetary injection, he has especially underlined, that these means first of all will go on creation of new workplaces.

Creation of new workplaces in the conditions of an economic crisis it is very difficult, if Obama they will be created by those it the good fellow

The administration of the

The administration of the USA is not going to strengthen a state role in economy, however is assured, that the government can act as "catalyst" of development of private business in the conditions of an economic crisis, the president of country Barack Obama has declared
Guys here I with our president agree

Infrastructure, But No Roadmap

Excellent choice of topic. We have a state Plan of Conservation & Development.  We have plans from the Transportation Strategy Board.  We have a Climate Change Action Plan.  We have blue ribbon recommendations on smart growth and property tax reform.  We have (had?) a Governor's Competitiveness Council.  We have economic competitiveness recommendations in the Partnership for Growth 1 report. And again in the Partnership for Growth 2 report.  We have an Office of Responsible Development.  We also have an Office of Responsible Growth. Last year the Responsible Growth Task Force issued some pretty good recommendations that would create an overarching set of principles that would guide our economic development patterns.  They were included in a bill in the 2008 legislative session that did not pass. 

One thing that did pass was legislation calling for a statewide economic strategic plan to be submitted to the Governor by July 2009.  The status of that plan is unclear.  But the need for it is not.  Meanwhile, a smart growth work group is reportedly at work at the legislature devising its own set of plans.

Rebuilding our infrastructure is probably a very good idea, but it depends partly on how you define “infrastructure.”  Deciding to invest in projects that are “shovel ready” may sound good at first, but let’s be a little more discerning than that in our thinking.  Given the length of time it takes for a project to be shovel ready, there’s a good chance it was designed under the old paradigm of cheap oil and a stable climate. 

How do we know the Governor’s not going to throw any federal money that might come our way at projects that not only don’t prepare us for the new economy, but set us even further back?  Show us the consistent set of criteria you’re going to use for deciding what we as a state invest in.  In the interest of transparency, put it your criteria and guiding principles up on your website. 

It’s generally good to invest in infrastructure, but please, let’s make sure we do it with some semblance of a roadmap. If there is one, show us, but I don’t think there is.  Connecticut needs one vision and one plan for our economic renewal, and sustainability needs to be at their core.

Multimodal/Inter-modal transportation

 John Dankosky, program, "Investing in Infrastructure" was an excellent program
and this topic should be aired more often.  
I have two ideas for discussion:  
1) The New Haven-Springfield rail proposal should have a rail link extending directly into Bradley rather than link with bus service from a Windsor station.  The time and inconvenience of transferring luggage between train and bus would be intolerable.    Many cites have moved in this direction and the benefits would be a remarkable step forward for us; reducing airport parking, conveniently providing an alternative airport to Kennedy and a convenience for passengers from the north - Vermont and Massachusetts, etc..  We should work beyond helping Connecticut and help New England with sustainable growth.
2)  The New Britain/Hartford busway proposal mostly parallels rail tracks.  Wouldn't it be wise to construct a seamless rail transportation system connecting, Waterbury, Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, Hartford, Bradley, Springfield and points north to Canada?  Buses would have another purpose - conveying passengers to and from the stations.
Our transportation system is very far behind, Europe, Japan and Australia and others. Cities in other countries have been aggressively developing a multimodal/inter-modal system inclusive of pedestrians, bicycles, autos, rail and ships.  Our present system is inconvenient, costly, a hindrance to development, wasteful and overall an embarrassment.

A Step To Improve Mass Transit and Hartford

I believe that if CT is eligible for funding under the Obama infrastructure spending plan, it should seriously consider establishing a light rail link between downtown Hartford and Bradley.  Actually, even if it is not eligible, I think such a link should be seriously considered. This type of system would facilitate visits from out of state residents to our already existing Hotel and Convention Center, which would further attract investment into that area and enhance the prosperity of the city.  The rail line could be designed to be expandable, south to New Haven and north to Springfield, at some later date if funding is not available. Anyone who has ever visited a City whose airport is linked with its downtown can appreciate the attractiveness and efficiency of such a transport system.

Mag Lev transportation's effect on the ecconomy and air travel

Dear Mr. John Dankosky, and Where We Live listeners,


I am very please that the focus has once again turned to creating infrastructure, but I hope that unlike the last 60 years, the focus would turn to mass transportation, specifically high speed rail lines. I am a Transportation Security Officer at Bradley International Airport, and I believe the best investment Connecticut could make in it’s infrastructure would be to create a high speed mag lev rail line from Bradley, through Hartford, to New York City. BDL is a very popular airport, with passengers often making the two or three hour trip from New York to fly from Bradley because the wait times can be much less, and their experience there is better.

Rail is highly efficient, with systems costing about 20% less than a highway per mile of construction. The 134 miles from JFK airport area in New York to BDL would cost approx $5.6 billion (assuming we don’t hire the same company that did the big dig). At an average speed of 250 mph it could cover the distance in half and hour, or more ambitiously, the trip all the way to Washington DC could be completed in 1.5 hours.

Mag lev trains are also far safer than traditional rail lines. First, they can’t collide with each other, since the track is only capable of moving in one direction at a time. Second, they are almost always elevated, meaning no rail road crossings. Lastly, they are easier to secure than traditional lines, and since transportation is a favorite terrorist target, this is an important consideration.

Furthermore, Mag Lev trains will help remove from the congestion on the highways, and by linking air travel to the New York area, it would help alleviate air congestion, and reduce the number of flight delays, since three fourths of all air traffic delays nationwide are due to congestion in the air over New York.

Finally, it would boost the economy of Connecticut, enable places as far as Hartford to be a commuter community to New York city, expand air travel and flight designations from BDL, increase tourism, and help the environment.

Thank you,


Marc T. Housley




Listener Email from Tammy Mitman

Good show. Words of advice to all: Step back.

Think we need to rebuild dams? Step back. What about the idea of using porous paving on all public projects in the state? That would reduce run-off issues, statewide. Think we need to rebuild a bridge? Step back. Why not create incentives for the companies that are drawing those commuters to relocate closer to their employees' homes? Think we need to order more railcars? Step back. Why don't we build them here? How big would the order need to be to create the incentive for a private/public partnership to start building railcars right here? Really think global warming will lead to rising ocean levels? Step back. Why not use incentives to get coastal companies to start relocating inland, now?

As Americans, we have a tendency to focus on the task immediately at hand and get 'r dun. We need to practice the long view.

Investing in Infrastructure

While investing in transportation might be one way of investing these funds and has the potential to benefit the state with adding some employment and reducing commuting time/expense for others, I'd like to see more done in the area of education and social services. With many people losing their jobs the state has a unique opportunity and should take advantage and "upgrade" its education systems/institutions. The state can also assist unemployed by assigning grants to individuals who are willing to be trained in new/needed fields/trades. These investments will also create more jobs and will plant the seeds for long term growth. As to social programs, we can have unemployed assigned to national service jobs which would support needed communities. There are various things they can do from assisting needed elderly to mentoring young students from needed communities. Some of these programs can be done on a national level and be adopted in the state but let's NOT support few state contractors with few infrastructure projects and call it the day...Lastly; there are many opportunities to invest in green technologies and green initiatives. I'd like to see the state enforcing a more robust recycling program and these are also long term investments. These elections were about changing the priorities and making the US a world leader again. Let's support those things that will help us gain this stature...Thanks!

Listener Email from Alex Brandorff

Consider converting schools to use geothermal heating/cooling systems.


Energy is second largest school budget expense, next to payroll. Larger than books and computers combined. CT school well below national avg in energy efficiency (rating of 26 out of 100 vs national avg 50 and Energy Star 75 rating)

Geothermal recognized by DOE as most energy efficient method of heating and cooling. Higher initial costs due to need to burying coils 8 ft underground. Even so, payback period often less than 10 years. Even quicker as oil prices increase. Schools have acreage available for burying coils (under ball fields, etc). Same system provides cooling. Increased comfort level in warmer months, summer school, other uses for buildings in summer (summer school, etc). Clean energy. Doesn't burn fossil fuels, other than electricity to circulate fluid. ratio of heating energy to electricity energy used is typically about 4:1

Catalyst for demonstrating/encouraging use in homes.

Listener Email from David Polochanin

I heard this morning that your show will feature how CT could use the Obama transportation infrastructure funds.

Connecticut does not need more highways – our existing highways fragment our state as it is. We need light rail networks connecting metro Hartford with New Haven and Fairfield County, the shoreline, Springfield, and perhaps extending to RI, Boston and NYC.

While CT is small in land area, we are isolated from other parts of the state and the large urban centers of Boston and New York. Light rail will encourage people to get connected to other parts of the state and beyond without to use our highway system for travel. In an age of increased environmental awareness and dependence on oil for energy, light rail is an ideal way to use these funds.

Dave Polochanin
Marlborough, CT

Regional Infrastructure Development

An interesting example of regionalism already in action is the power grid that includes all of New England, Quebec, and Canada's maritime provinces. A key factor in this is the regional grid operator called ISO New England, an entity created under federal legislation. States retain a good deal of autonomy with respect to system planning, siting, conservation, addressing environmental impacts and so on, but those activities happen within a regional framework. The arrangement has its shortcomings, but given the challenges of bringing jurisdications together voluntarily, with this experience in mind the new administration in Washington would be well-advised to view it is a prototype for regional transportation planning, economic development, etc.

Trains aren't the only part of our infrastructure

The host of today's show sounded more like a lobbyist for locomotive industry then a reporter. He seemed to be pushing his own agenda by focusing soley on rail transportation. I think that it was unfair for the host and guests to attack Governor Rell because she addressed a comprehensive list of infrastructure projects rather then focusing on the host's pet transportation projects.

Intercity Buses

Have there been any surveys on where people live who work in large work areas (such as Sikorsky Aircraft and the close-by Shelton and Trumbull business parks), and providing convenient and frequent buses to/from those work areas and where people live?  Why not allow buses or large passenger vans to go down Route 15 from the large population centers of Hamden, North Haven, Wallingford, Meriden to Fairfield County?  It's way too impractical to go down to New Haven, take the train, and then get back up north to Sikorsky/Shelton/Trumbull, etc.

i agree to

I am agree whit you...