Stuck in traffic? So are Connecticut businesses

UIL Corp.'s James P. Torgerson
UIL Corp.'s James P. Torgerson

Overcrowded highways and roads are the top transportation concern for Connecticut businesses, according to a new survey.

More than half of survey respondents (55%) identified highway improvements and expansion as providing the biggest benefit to the state’s residents and businesses, followed by improving and expanding rail systems (20%).

Businesses overwhelmingly want operational lanes added to Interstate 95 (88% of respondents), and almost half (42%) of companies surveyed say road congestion limits their market.

Respondents also said the state’s recent fuel tax increases were impacting their businesses.

Outdated transportation infrastructure’

“This survey measures the increasingly negative impact of the state’s outdated transportation infrastructure on the state’s residents, businesses, and economic vitality,” said Pete Gioia, an economist for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), one the groups that sponsored the survey.

“While the state has made some important first steps in addressing these challenges, it’s very clear that considerable work remains,” Gioia said.

Need better transit options

James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive officer of UIL Holdings, parent company of United Illuminating, called for improvements to the state’s beleaguered public transit system.

“Connecticut’s economy will continue to stagnate unless we invest in improving connectivity both within the state and to the New York City and Boston metropolitan areas,” Torgerson said. “More and better transit options will support economic growth and improve quality of life.”

The 2013 Connecticut Transportation Survey found that business leaders ranked transportation as the third most desired state government spending priority — coming behind economic development and education.

The survey was the first major study of statewide transportation issues. It was sponsored by UIL Holdings Corp, and produced by the CBIA, Connecticut Construction Industries Association, Stamford Chamber of Commerce, and Motor Transport Association of Connecticut.

‘This is a wake-up call’

Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said the survey results proved the state’s economic health was dependent on upgrading its transportation system.

“This is a wake-up call to Connecticut’s political leadership,” he said. “It’s time to stop postponing expansions and improvements and get this state moving again.”

Condition of I-95 is criticized

Stamford Chamber of Commerce President Jack Condlin noted that traffic volume on I-95 was more than three times the highway’s capacity of 50,000 daily vehicle trips.

“It’s no wonder that this highway structure is among the state’s — and even the country’s — worst and most unsafe,” Condlin said.

Connecticut Construction Industries Association President Donald J. Shubert said the state “must put every dollar to good use. “Turning available funding into designed and constructed projects as quickly as possible will have a positive and lasting effect on Connecticut’s workforce, infrastructure, and economy,” Shubert said.

Other survey results

Additional key findings from the survey:

— Nearly three-quarters (74%) support legislation prohibiting the use of Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund to cover general fund shortfalls.

— Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents said recent increases in the state’s gas and diesel taxes impacted their businesses.

— 64% believe better transportation options would increase their ability to attract and maintain a quality workforce.

— 15% considered relocating their businesses because of regional transportation concerns.

About the survey and CBIA

The 2013 Connecticut Transportation Survey was emailed in late September and early October to top executives at 6,000 firms across the state, with a response rate of 10.9% and a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.92%.

CBIA is Connecticut’s largest business organization, with 10,000 member companies. Learn more at