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Malloy Brings Transportation Vision To Danbury, Calls For Widening Of I-84

Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Gov. Dannel Malloy sell their transportation initiative from the rest area at Exit 2 of I-84 in Danbury on Thursday morning. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Gov. Dannel Malloy keeps his hands in his pockets to keep warm as he talks about transportation problems in the state -- including those on I-84, behind him. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

DANBURY, Conn. -- To campaign for his transportation plan, Gov. Dannel Malloy hit the road Thursday and headed to Danbury, where he spoke about the need to widen Interstate 84.

I-84 should be three lanes wide throughout the entire state, Malloy said at a news conference held outside at a rest area on a hill overlooking the highway. 

"We need to modernize the roadway behind me," he said. "It's unique in that it connects three major cities -- Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford -- in about 50 miles."

A two-lane highway was "OK when I was a kid," Malloy said. "But now on Thursdays and Fridays, especially in the summer, the highway is tied up for substantial portions of the afternoons." 

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is focusing on widening a 5-mile section of the highway between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury – where significant chokepoints develop on a daily basis, he said in a statement.

Malloy also called for an extension of the Danbury branch of Metro-North Railroad to New Milford. 

"People in Connecticut have been complaining about the roads for a long, long time," Malloy said. "We will lay out a plan for improvements -- and people can embrace it or they can keep on complaining. ... I didn't get re-elected to stand around and do nothing." 

The governor is spelling out a plan for a 25-year comprehensive improvement and investment in the state's entire transportation system -- planes, trains and automobiles as well as buses and even freight transport. In his State of the State address delivered earlier this month after he was sworn in for his second term, Malloy focused on only one topic: transportation.

"Connecticut has drastically underinvested in transportation for two generations," Malloy said Thursday.

But his plan is still short on details, including how the state will pay for improvements.

"There are many, many ways to pay for transit improvements ... a toll is one of them, taxes are another," he said. "Everyone is focused on tolls, but people want a transportation system that works."

State Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury) attended the rest area press conference. 

"We need the report and we need to know to pay for it. That's what I'm anxious to see," McLachlan said, agreeing with "the importance of transportation for the region's economic vitality." 

Malloy promised to send a detailed and comprehensive plan to the state legislature in February. 

Malloy earlier this month rode the rails on the New Canaan Branch to highlight Metro-North improvements. Read more about the new rail cars here on the Daily Voice. Read more about his State of the State Address here on the Daily Voice. 

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