Today, more than ever, the people of Connecticut are concerned about the State’s economy and are trying to find solutions that will make Connecticut more attractive to businesses and future residents. A key component of any economy is its infrastructure. This includes transportation networks, energy and clean water distribution systems, and wastewater collection. Infrastructure is the glue that holds our modern-day cities and towns together. Businesses rely on the transportation systems to move goods and people, power and water for industry, and communications to reach customers and conduct business transactions. The better these infrastructure systems are, the greater the opportunities for prosperity.
The Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers, in conjunction with the American Society of Civil Engineers, looked at five important infrastructure networks: roads, bridges, rail transportation, drinking water systems and wastewater systems. Grades ranged from a D+ to a B, with an average grade of a C-. Age is a reoccurring challenge across many of the categories. Much of Connecticut’s infrastructure is over 50 years old, meaning it is beyond its intended life. While our roadways, bridges and more are still functioning and safe, they are worn out, less reliable, and more congested. Investing in infrastructure will foster opportunities for our economy to grow in a sustainable fashion and support ongoing prosperity.
This report looks at the five categories of infrastructure, highlighting the significant problems and identifying several solutions. Click here to read the 2018 Connecticut Infrastructure Report Card Executive Summary.
In Connecticut, there are 79 million bridge crossings each day and 7.8% of bridges in the state are structurally deficient, compared with 8.9% nationwide. Some of the state’s largest and most heavily traveled bridges are those with the structurally deficient (otherwise known as a “poor” condition) rating, meaning significant funding will be needed to bring these bridges back to a state of good repair. While the percentage of structurally deficient bridges is small, 62.6% of bridges are in fair condition, which puts them at risk for slipping into the structurally deficient category. Fortunately, funding has been allocated to continue the initial phases of Governor Malloy’s $100 billion, 30-year Let’s Go CT! transportation plan through 2020, bolstered by $250 million in General Obligation Bonds. However, 59% of bridges in the state are over 50 years old and beyond their design life, which will require new sources of funding to ensure our bridge network is properly maintained and improved to meet the future needs of the traveling public.
Connecticut has high-quality drinking water and generally well-maintained water systems, but these systems are aging and in need of major repair and rehabilitation, estimated at over $4 billion through 2034. Drinking water system operations, including infrastructure improvements, are funded primarily through a rate-based system. The average Connecticut household pays an average of approximately $500 per year for clean, potable drinking water. Additional asset management planning will be needed to ensure the limited amount of available funding is used where it is needed most. In addition, as the effects of climate change are increasingly being felt, water systems will need to evaluate their vulnerability and take steps to mitigate the impact while maintaining service to their customers.
Connecticut has a significant passenger and freight railroad system that provides service within the state and commerce between the major metropolitan areas of Boston and New York. Over 3.6 million tons of freight are moved annually on 10 freight railroads. Over 3.5 million intercity passengers are served on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The current Metro-North Railroad system serves approximately 41 million passengers annually and is the busiest railroad line in the country. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has invested nearly $780 million in the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Line. While the existing rail and track infrastructure is in generally good condition, there is still a continuing need to invest in rail system modernization and replacement across both the freight and passenger network. Rail is key to sustaining economic development and competitiveness with a focus on increasing the capacity of the rail system to accommodate increased ridership and freight tonnage.
Connecticut has over 20,000 miles of public roadways that form an important link, crucial for residents of the state and for connecting important commercial and industrial centers to the east, west and north. However, more than half of the network is more than 55 years old and a majority of the roads are either in poor or fair condition. The condition of the road network is anticipated to further deteriorate if it does not receive significant investment. The combination of poorly maintained roads and congestion costs Connecticut road users approximately $2.4 billion annually. It is anticipated that approximately $30 billion will be needed to provide roadway facilities that would meet expectations of roadway users within 30 years. While some funding through bonds have been provided in support of the Let’s Go CT! plan, more is needed to maintain the long-term solvency of the Special Transportation Fund, bolster the state’s economic competitiveness and improve residents’ quality of life.
Most of Connecticut is served by sanitary sewer systems; however, Connecticut has a wide variety of wastewater infrastructure. This infrastructure is aging and needs major repairs and rehabilitation. A $4.6 billion investment is required to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows alone. Robust planning is necessary to ensure that limited funds are used where needed most. Also of significant concern is the impact of increasingly severe storms on the state’s wastewater infrastructure. Connecticut is home to almost 50 sewage plants that have been identified as at “high-risk” for flooding during major storms. Due to the tangible effects of climate change, wastewater facilities will need to be more resilient and take steps to address the impacts of increased flooding to maintain operation during extreme events.
A: EXCEPTIONAL, B: GOOD, C: MEDIOCRE, D: POOR, F: FAILING
Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation
Key Facts about Connecticut's Infrastructure
13 public-use airports
332 (7.83%) of the 4,238 bridges are structurally deficient
284 high hazard dams
Dams with EAPS
85% of the state regulated dams have an Emergency Action Plan
$4.02 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years
13 sites on the National Priorities List
120 miles of inland waterways, ranking it 34th
24 miles of levees
13.3 million short tons of cargo in 2012, ranking it 32nd nationally
$87 million of unmet needs for its parks system
522 miles of freight railroads across the state, ranking 45th nationally
$676 per motorist per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair
21,544 miles of Public Roads, with 34% in poor condition
$689 million gap in estimated school capital expenditures
42,280,346 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems including bus, transit, and commuter trains
$4.6 Billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years
Our nation’s infrastructure problems are solvable if we have leadership and commit to making good ideas a reality. Raising the grades on our infrastructure will require that we seek and adopt a wide range of solutions.