A recent front page story ran in The Day, the largest local newspaper. Did it run a profile on each person that has been killed on that road commuting to work? Did it show how much money is lost to the area on that road in damages from non fatal accidents? No, it featured a pretty waterfall, a beautiful wooded landscape, and some pictures of rabbits; revealing a very obvious bias on the project. For 20 years the state of CT has repeatedly attempted to get Route 11 completed, which would bypass the dangerous Route 85 and save lives, and it has been repeatedly blocked. This time the EPA is at it again arresting any progress or development. The EPA has publicly stated that in general it opposes all new roads and it is given virtually limitless power to stop new road construction. Is this reasonable? It opposes ALL NEW ROADS? Is this the way to progress? Is this the way to strengthening our economy?
In a story that ran on June 26, 2006 on Route 11 The Day reports:
Environmental Concerns Could Derail Route 11 Plan
"Bartlett contends that the road designs would “cause or contribute to significant degradation of waters of the United States, ” and he and the top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official call the most recent assessment of the project's environmental impact inadequate"
And really now, an 8.5 mile highway will cause SIGNIFICANT DEGRADATION OF THE WATERS OF THE [ENTIRE?] UNITED STATES. Are they serious? More delays and studies, favorite tactics of the EPA.
The article quotes a lone voice of reason:
"The agency has been studying whether building the road could deplete the habitat of the New England cottontail rabbit, which is being considered for endangered species status. U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Connecticut, has ridiculed the study, contending the agency is more concerned with rabbits than the human lives lost because of accidents on Route 85."
In 1919 future president and then solder Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled with a military caravan on a cross country trip. The journey was torturous and took months to complete, with horses and wagons and trucks routinely getting trapped in muddy ravines and overburdened roads. There is no doubt this terrible experience played a role in his future advocacy of a national interstate highway system. From 1956 to 1975 the Federal Highway Act created 35,000 miles of it’s planned 42,000 miles of highways. In the subsequent 20 years from 1975 to 1995 only the remaining 7,000 miles were built. In the latest 10 years from 1995 to today, a mere 4,000 more miles have been paved, a 10% percent increase. According the Bureau of Transportation Statistics the number of vehicle miles traveled in 1975 was 1.4 trillion miles, in 1995 was 2.4 trillion miles while in 2005 that number was 3 trillion. Today highways represent less than one percent of the nation’s total road mileage yet carry over 20 percent of the nations traffic. We see barely 20% more highway travel lanes than in 1975, while the number of vehicle miles traveled has doubled, and the number of cars on the road continues to sky rocket.
Interstate 95, which goes from the Florida Keys to the cost of Maine, through Atlantic City, New York city, and Boston, also passes through Connecticut on it’s southern coast. Most of 95 through CT is two lanes, and the Stretch of 95 that goes from Danbury CT (near the New York border) to Old Saybrook is one of the busiest exchanges in the country. Recently a plan was unveiled to add one single lane on the north and south bound parts of 95 in CT, along 65 mile stretch. The estimates for the cost and time frame? 20 billion dollars and 20 years! Are you kidding me, we paved half the nation in that time and cost.
In 1991 work began in Hong Kong on the most ambitious civil engineering project of the 21st century. In the following 7 years, and at a cost of 20 billion dollars, a six lane one mile tunnel, two bridges, one of which was the worlds longest double decker suspension bridge, the other the worlds longest cable-stayed bridge, twenty-two miles of an elevated superhighway, much of it built over an existing fourteen lane highway which remained opened, a high speed rail along that highway, an artificial island and on top of it a new airport with the worlds largest passenger terminal in history were built. Yet it takes the US 20 years and 20 billion dollars to add one lane to 65 miles of highway!
(Learn all about Hong Kong's mega engineering project - here)
This is completely absurd. Our interstate highways are the lifeblood of our economy. They are not called major arteries for nothing, if you choke of a major highway, all transportation suffers, all manufactured goods, fuels, and foods are delayed. Everything is more expensive. Sitting in endless traffic jams with engines idling for hours on end. The nation suffers as a whole. America has the majority of its population on opposing costs separated by a thousand miles of nothing except massive farms. The greater metropolitan area of New York contains an estimated 21 million people, people who get their food, goods, and fuel primary by vehicles traveling on highways. The greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles is home to 18 million people, again all fed, clothed, and fueled primarily through highways. The greater metropolitan area of Chicago, the 3rd largest in the US and the only major one in the middle of the east and west coasts, is home to 10 million people. Together these three cities make up almost 50 million people and contain 1/6 of the nations population. A cursory look at any population density map shows that the majority of the US’s population lies on opposing costs, with huge swaths of land in between with population densities of 1 – 5 people per square mile. This area, of course, is where much of our food, and a significant portion of the worlds food supply, is produced. Roads and highways are the only way to get these goods to their destinations. Our entire economy and livelihood center on fast, efficient, and smooth transportation, with the interstate highways at the core. Yet we would rather pull our teeth out than build new roads, and when we do they cost an absurd amount of money and take decades to construct. What is going on here? Have we lost our minds?