February 4, 2010

Busway fate may be decided tonight

A last-minute bid to derail the proposed $573 million busway project between New Britain and Hartford has supporters and critics focused on tonight’s Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency session.
Regional planners, who backed the busway a decade ago, are trying to decide whether to give their blessing to a move to allocate $116 million during the next two years to the busway project.
If they refuse, the 9.4-mile busway may be delayed or killed.
While busway backers say the agency’s support for use of the money should be automatic, it’s clear that at least some planning officials disagree.
Tim Furey, a Bristol representative to the agency board, said advocates of both the busway and the commuter rail alternative plan to present information to planners tonight.
With so much at stake, Furey said, it’s crucial that planners make “a very informed decision” and not a hasty one. He said a final decision may not be made until March.
Busway backers said the $45 million in federal aid announced Wednesday is irrelevant to the decision at hand.
For Mike Nicastro, president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, the decision facing the CCRPA is a straightforward one: whether to commit another $116 million to the busway during tough years when the rest of the state is “going to take a beating” financially.
“We’re sure burning a lot of dry powder for 9 miles,” Nicastro said.
To allocate the transportation cash for the busway, he said, essentially means “eating funds” that could be use to fix highways, repair bridges or some of the many other projects already on the state’s to-do list.  Read the rest of the story by clicking here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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