DeLauro: Don’t cut transportation funds
STRATFORD — With the Moses Wheeler Bridge as a backdrop and construction workers as an audience, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Tuesday that maintaining at least the current level of federal transportation funding is crucial to Connecticut.
A bill by House Republicans would cut federal transportation funds by $66 million in the state, compared to a Senate bill that would raise the total $10.1 million. Over the next five years, Connecticut’s share of federal highway funds would drop by $335 million, more than the cost of the new Moses Wheeler Bridge, if the House bill is passed in its present form, she said.
“I honestly don’t know how this will turn out, but we need to build things in America, not just consume things made in another country,” DeLauro said. “About 1.8 million jobs would be lost under the House bill. These are jobs that can’t be outsourced.”
Funding for the new Moses Wheeler Bridge, being built along the current structure over the Housatonic River is probably secure, officials said. The five-year project began in October. Three of the concrete piers are partially complete.
“This project came in under the estimate and it is on an aggressive schedule to finish early,” said Donald Shubert, president of the Construction Industries Association. “But we need long-term funding; 75 percent of Connecticut’s roads aren’t in good shape.”
Between 30 and 40 carpenters are employed on the Moses Wheeler project, union business agent Michael Robinson said. Laborers and heavy equipment operators make up most of the workforce there. Chris Cozzi, business agent for Local 478 of the Operating Engineers union, said that there is plenty of work for his members if federal funds can be maintained or increased. The state Department of Transportation has a list of 317 bridges that urgently need repair.