Senator Chris Murphy, as keynote speaker at our Fall Member Luncheon, focused his comments on the need for increased infrastructure investment within the state and within the northeast rail corridor region. Murphy outlined his priorities for the role of government, not too dissimilar from that of the private sector, as being mindful of the strength of physical infrastructure, the workforce and the competitive edge. Just as a business needs to invest in its facility or equipment, the government needs to do the same. “Our economy is infrastructure dependent,” Murphy said. “No business would accept spending 2% of annual revenue to invest in its physical plant,” adding that Europe invests 6% and China 12%.
Pointing out the impact of disinvestment, Murphy noted that train travel has become slower not by minutes, but by hours since the turn of the century. “Not because the technology isn’t there,” commented Murphy, “simply because the political will is not there to make those infrastructure investments. So we are getting what we pay for, we are misunderstanding the function government should play to make those key investments to allow private sector to excel.”
In Murphy’s view, the first few months of the next president’s term will involve a major investment package. That, coupled with a $260b proposal on infrastructure from the Finance Committee, points to an early 2017 major infrastructure spend Murphy predicted.
In preparation for that potential, work has been done through the most recent transportation bills that would prevent new money from being ‘plowed into the same broken mechanisms.’
Murphy said lawmakers have worked to prepare to receive new investment funding. To date for the Northeast Corridor, a price tag has been put on repairs ($28b); a separate account for the Northeast corridor within Amtrak has been established based on the Corridor’s profitability and ridership; and going forward profits made from service in this corridor – $300m annually – will be allocated specifically for the Northeast corridor.
With those new mechanisms established, as one anticipates future infrastructure investment, Murphy is calling for a new financing authority for the Northeast Corridor. “It is not enough to have all members at the table. We need a decision making authority that brings together all the different entities.”
Ultimately, the authority will have the leverage to request investment from the federal government, supplemented by money raised from private and state government sources, to get to the $28b the Northeast Corridor needs to achieve a state for good repair.
In a reference to The Business Council’s push for more frequent and faster rail service within the state, Murphy expressed hope that with such an investment pool further investment from the Feds will follow, allowing for a build up to accomplish true high speed rail that makes that 30-30-30 a reality. (30-30-30 is The Business Council’s shorthand for 30 minutes from Hartford to New Haven, 30 minutes from New Haven to Stamford and 30 minutes from Stamford to GCT. Read more on 30-30-30 here.)
“I think If we continue to fund these projects in the same way we will never get there – we have got to create something new.”
Our Fall Member Luncheon featuring Senator Chris Murphy was an event supported in part through The Business Council’s Stamford Transportation Roundtable. Formed in 2010, The Roundtable works to reduce congestion, improve safety and strengthen connectivity between the city and the surrounding region by enabling employers to share best practices and cooperate on specific initiatives and by promoting public sector transportation planning focused on customer needs.
Roundtable meetings engage employers, building owners and developers, and civic leaders in ongoing interaction with the city, regional and state transportation and land use planning officials and service providers. The Business Council staff provides ongoing issue tracking and initiatives management.
This initiative is made possible by the generous support of