Group calls for action to fix deficient state bridges - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Group calls for action to fix deficient state bridges

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The Move CT Forward group says many of the state's bridges are structurally deficient. (WFSB) The Move CT Forward group says many of the state's bridges are structurally deficient. (WFSB)

Millions of people hit the road every day in Connecticut, and many of them drive over the thousands of bridges across the state.

However, questions have been raised recently over whether or not those bridges are structurally sound.

One local organization, Move CT Forward, is demanding action to fix what it's calling Connecticut's deteriorating infrastructure.

The group gathered on Forest Street in Hartford Friday to call on Hartford to take action and fix the "state's crumbling infrastructure."

Well over 300 bridges are considered structurally deficient. 

Move CT Forward billed itself as a coalition of organizations committed to bringing public attention to and resolving what it has called Connecticut's infrastructure crisis.

It said the state currently has more than 1,200 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges.

"Connecticut is in a crisis, but I need all of you to contact your legislators and tell them the time is now," said State Representative Tony Guerrera, Transportation Committee Co-Chair. 

The bridge where the group held its news conference on Friday had been scheduled for much-needed rehabilitation; however, the project has been put on hold due to the funding shortfall in the special transportation fund.

Roughly 33% of all state bridges are considered structurally deficient. Most were built in the 1950s and 1960s. 

"When a bridge is structurally deficient, it means there's a problem with the deck, the substructure. You can look right up here on the bridge and see re-bars sticking out of the concrete," said Don Shubert of CT Construction Industries Association. 

Connecticut's transportation fund is pretty much empty, and $4 billion of projects are already on hold. 

The construction industry and some lawmakers are pushing for a plan to sue the tax on new car sales. Instead of having the tax go into the general fund, the money would be put into transportation, which would be $65 million in 2019 and $350 million over the next five years. 

"Investing in infrastructure is an investment that benefits almost everyone, whether they drive themselves, whether they take the bus, whether in the not so distant future they ride in self-driving cars," said Amy Parmenter, AAA spokesperson. 

The legislature would have to approve this and ultimately, this is just a short-term solution to repair all the state bridges and roads will require more money. 

“What we see above is a prime example of what will continue to happen if legislators in Hartford do not take action,” said Shubert. “We cannot continue to risk the public’s safety or the economy of Connecticut. This bridge is one of literally hundreds and hundreds across the state that is in need of repair.  We can fix this.  All it takes is a solution from Hartford.”

Governor Dannel P. Malloy said the state has failed for decades to fund transportation. 

"People say 'why aren't we as strong as Boston, why aren't we as strong as other places.' Well, those places have invested in transportation, we don't and it's seven and a half year conversation I've had with myself," Malloy said. 

This call for action comes about a month after a deadly bridge collapse in Florida. A newly-constructed pedestrian bridge came crashing down near Miami.

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