State earmarks $12 million to repair winter-ravaged roads

Hartford - Connecticut is spending nearly $12 million to fill in potholes and make other repairs to roads ravaged by the harshest winter in years.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state transportation officials announced Wednesday that the state Bond Commission will be asked this week to approve $11.9 million to pay for the state's annual maintenance and road resurfacing program.

With $57 million previously approved, 264 miles of primary roads will be fixed.

Malloy touted the work as needed road repair and job creation projects.

"Our Department of Transportation is keeping our roads in a state of good repair and hiring Connecticut workers to get the job done," he said.

Rep. Antonio Guerrera, House chairman of the legislature's Transportation Committee, said the damage caused by the weather is in addition to the usual wear and tear and justifies new sources of revenue for repairs. The Rocky Hill Democrat repeated his call for tolls, particularly as gas tax revenue declines with more energy-efficient cars and trucks on the roads.

"We're going to have to look at this seriously," he said.

The Obama administration has proposed allowing states to toll interstates to pay for repair or replacement of the highways. States are currently barred from tolling federal interstates except if the money is used to add lanes or otherwise increase capacity.

Kevin Nursick, a spokesman at the state Department of Transportation, said Connecticut is responsible for 5,000 miles of two-lane roads and highways, and repairs between 200 and 250 miles of roads each year. The 264 miles being targeted is in response to the snow and ice storms, freeze-and-thaw periods and extreme cold during the last winter.

Repaving and construction will be spread evenly around Connecticut "for every constituency," Nursick said.

Guerrera said his constituents support spending money on roads even if they oppose government spending elsewhere.

"There's some criticism we spend money foolishly," he said. "When you tell people you're spending money to fix roads and bridges, I never hear any complaints."

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