CT License Plates Are Fundraising "Vehicle" for Scores of State's Nonproits

CT License Plates Are Fundraising "Vehicle" for Scores of State's Nonproits

State law allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “special background plates” on behalf of non-profit organizations. There are more that 70,000 on the roads today, and 65 specialty designs available, supporting a wide range of nonprofit causes. The most popular: Long Island Sound. The other may surprise you.

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Municipalities Can Apply for Federal Bridge Repair Funds From State Through May 31; Hundreds of Projects Eligible

Municipalities Can Apply for Federal Bridge Repair Funds From State Through May 31; Hundreds of Projects Eligible

There are more than 3,400 bridges and culverts on municipally maintained roads, according to the state Department of Transportation. Construction and maintenance is the responsibility of the cities and towns who own them. Currently, 688 bridges or culverts located in the state’s municipalities are considered to be functionally obsolete and 205 are categorized as structurally deficient. 

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Will Legislature Act to Re-open Highway Rest Stops? Maybe, Maybe Not

Will Legislature Act to Re-open Highway Rest Stops?  Maybe, Maybe Not

Legislative testimony says highway “rest areas are more than a public convenience” - they also “provide a public safety benefit.” Whether the state’s closed rest facilities will re-open is uncertain, as the fate, timing and impact of legislative proposals suggest change may not be imminent.

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Deju Vu As Advocates for More Vibrant Tweed Descend on Capitol

A public hearing this month on a proposal to “eliminate the restriction on the length of Runway 2-20 at Tweed-New Haven Airport, was, in some ways, deju vu all over again, as advocates for ramping up flights in and out of Tweed came to the State Capitol to urge action. A decade ago, in 2009, supporters of the regional airport came to the Capitol seeking state funds to fuel growth.  This year, the focus is on runway expansion to do the same.  The common thread: economic development.

“To realize the region’s full potential as a destination, the airport must improve its infrastructure to support an expanded schedule of flights to additional destinations,” said Ginny Kozlowsi, then president and CEO of the Greater New Haven Convention & visitors Bureau, in 2009.

This month, she was back at the Capitol, as executive director of REX Development:  “The retention and recruitment of businesses are essential for the economic success of Connecticut.  With the limited flights currently available at Tweed new Haven Regional Airport, it is difficult for companies in Southern Connecticut to access current clients, attract talent and secure more business.”

In testimony this month, Garrett Sheehan, the president and CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that “The ability to bring people to New Haven and efficiently travel to other locations would greatly improve if Tweed New Haven Airport had additional flights and destinations. It is our expectation that expanding the runway from 5600 feet to 6600 feet, within the airport’s existing footprint, will open the door for new commercial service at Tweed.”

Sheehan noted that today “business is conducted on a global scale. The New Haven region is home to thriving manufacturers, biotech companies, tech startups, and other important businesses. These companies have employees that travel regularly and customers and suppliers who need to visit.”

He named the local organizations and businesses supporting what he described as “a better Tweed”: Avangrid, Alexion, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Arvinas, ASSA ABLOY, Biorez, CA White, CT Bio, CT Tourism Coalition, DISTRICT New Haven, Ferguson & McGuire Insurance, Fitstyle by Shana, Marcum, My Language Link, New Haven Manufacturing Association, Prometheus Research, Radiall USA, Inc., Regional Water Authority, Technolutions, The Outtrim Group, Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, and Yale New Haven Health.

One of them, ASSA ABLOY, testified ten years ago, when vice president Jack Dwyer stated:  “A clear function of business travel efficiency is proximity to an airport…and having Tweed as a viable alternative is viewed by our management team and owners as being a factor in our ongoing and future success.”

In its testimony this month, Yale New Haven Health senior vice president Vin Petrini, chief policy and communications officer, pointed out that “Yale New Haven Health is currently the largest private employer in Connecticut with more than 25,000 employees located in nearly every town, city and legislative district in the State. We also have the distinction of being the State’s largest taxpayer having paid more than $300 million in provider taxes last year alone.”

Petrini said “Tweed represents the second most underserved region in the nation,” stating that action on the legislation would unleash a “key linchpin in the economic future of the region and the state of Connecticut.”

Ryan Duques, chairman of Madison’s Economic Development Commission, a tech startup managing partner and the former publisher of 15 Connecticut newspapers, and told lawmakers that “Tweed is vital to the economic sustainability of south-central Connecticut,” adding that “it is our expectation that this change will open the door for new commercial service at Tweed with additional destinations and flights.”

The words of former Southern Connecticut State University president Cheryl Norton a decade ago could easily have been said this month: “a robust regional airport would provide another travel option to our crowded roadways and trains.”


Pedestrian Deaths Climb in Connecticut, Nationwide

The number of pedestrian deaths in Connecticut in the first half of 2018 jumped by 53 percent compared to the same period the previous year, according to preliminary data released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. There were 29 pedestrian deaths between January and June in Connecticut in 2018, compared with 19 between January and June 2017.  Based on population, Connecticut’s fatality rate was 16th among the states.

Nationwide, there was a 3 percent increases, as the number of pedestrian deaths climbed from 2,790 to 2,876 during the six month periods.  Five states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas) accounted for almost half — 46 percent — of all pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2018.

Overall, pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2018 declined in 23 states compared with the same period in 2017.   Six states (Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin) reported double-digit declines in both the number and percent change in pedestrian fatalities from the same period in 2017. Three states (Iowa, New Hampshire and Utah) reported two consecutive years of declining numbers of pedestrian fatalities.

During the 10-year period of 2008 to 2017, according to the National Highway traffic Safety Administration, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. increased by 35 percent, from 4,414 deaths in 2008 to 5,977 deaths in 2017. This translates into more than 1,500 additional pedestrian deaths in 2017 compared with 2008. At the same time that pedestrian deaths have been increasing, the number of all other traffic deaths combined decreased by six percent.

In its review of state efforts to promote pedestrian safety, an initiative in Connecticut is highlighted:  “Connecticut introduced the “Watch for Me CT” campaign, which is a statewide educational community outreach campaign involving media components and community engagement in partnership with CT Children’s Medical Center.” A statewide signage project was recently completed to ensure pedestrian signage was up to date with current standards, including near schools and bus stops, the report states, indicating that “every state is addressing pedestrian safety using a combination of engineering, education and enforcement.”

In addition, the GHSA report indicates that nationwide “about 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and increases in pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night. From 2008 to 2017 the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent, compared to a much smaller, 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.”

The change in the prevalence of various vehicle-types on the road is also noted, with the report pointing out that pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by car.

The Green Book Has Hartford Debut - Documentary Tells Real Story of Guide to Freedom Through Segregated America

Little known by most people - regardless of race - until recently, the Green Book has recently exploded into the public consciousness. Described as "the essential travel guide for a segregated America," within just the past two days a popular movie by that name won the Academy Award for best picture, and a documentary relating the story of  real people and places that inspired the popular motion picture debuted on the Smithsonian Channel.

The documentary, "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom," was shown at a special preview at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, in a showing coordinated by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Comcast, and the Smithsonian Channel.  It marked the third year that Comcast has joined with the Amistad Center and Smithsonian Channel to bring a special presentation to Hartford during Black History month.

Nearly 100 people were on hand for the local premiere of the documentary, which was followed by a panel discussion including Kelli Herod, Vice President of Post Production at Smithsonian Channel, and Stacey Close, Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity at Eastern Connecticut State University, moderated by Kara Sundlun of WFSB.  Amistad Center Executive Director & Curator at Large Wm. Frank Mitchell, Brad Palazzo, Comcast Director of Community Impact and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also spoke briefly, with Bronin saluting the "resiliance, ingenuity and determination" of those who traveled through dangerous times.

The documentary was produced by award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen.  It premieres this week on Smithsonian Channel, telling the story of the Green Book, launched in the 1930's by Victor Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem who created a volume that was "part travel guide and part survival guide."  It helped African-Americans navigate safe passage across a dangerously segregated nation, identifying towns, hotels, restaurants and businesses that would be hospitable to African-Americans, sometimes few and far between.

The challenges were not only in the South.  In fact, a page in the 1948 Green Book, lists locations in Connecticut - and the list does not fill the page.  The locations were in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Stamford, Waterbury and West Haven.  Included are restaurants, hotels, tourist homes, beauty parlors, barber shops, and night clubs.  The 1967 edition also includes five Hartford locations, including one - the former Bond Hotel - that is still standing to this day.

"We are proud to tell the true story behind this remarkable guide and to shine new light on this disturbing yet important period in Amerian history," said David Royle, Smithsonian Channel's Chief Programming officer.

The documentary tells the story of the rise of the African American middle class in Detroit, and the iconic A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama - a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. It also recalls that during its 1950s heyday, the Idlewild Resort in Michigan was a magnet for black culture and entertainment, with a booming nightlife featuring famous performers like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.  In the Q&A in Hartford following the advance showing, one audience member recalled her family owning property at the Idlewild - a local connection that the panel did not expect, but was clearly pleased to learn.

"At Comcast NBC Universal diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of our company culture and are crucial components to all of our efforts to create and deliver the best and boldest technology and entertainment for our customers," noted Palazzo. "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom screening is another way for us to bring diverse entertainment and story-telling locally to Hartford-area residents."  Comcast, with Connecticut offices in Berlin, has partnered with the Amistad on a number of initiatives over the years and "are proud to play a small role in helping them to tell their cultural story."

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, located in the Wadsworth Atheneum, celebrates art and culture influenced by people of African descent through education, scholarship  and social experiences.

Victor Green looked forward to the day people wouldn't need the Green Book. In the 1949 edition he wrote,

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

The year the Civil Rights Act passed, in 1964, was the Green Book’s last.  As the panelists in Hartford noted, more than 50 years later, the struggle for equality continues.






Frontier Airlines Growth Continues with Return to Hartford and Boston in 2019

In the spring of 2012, Frontier Airlines discontinued service to Boston’s Logan International Airport, which consisted of a daily flight to Kansas City.  Frontier has flown out of Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks in the past decade as well, with a Milwaukee flight that was discontinued in 2011 and service to Denver that ended in 2008. Now, they’re coming back to both New England airports, but they’re not headed to Milwaukee or Kansas City.  In a series of announcements in recent weeks, Frontier unveiled an expansion including eight-routes from North Carolina’s Raleigh/Durham airport.

Boston will become the 106th city on its route map with the addition. The other seven routes Frontier is launching from Raleigh/Durham include Albany, New York; Columbus, Ohio; Hartford (BDL); Jacksonville; Long Island/Islip, New York; and Philadelphia.

The added service continues a rapid ramp-up by Frontier in Raleigh/Durham (RDU). Once the new services begin, Frontier says it will offer either year-round or nonstop flights to 32 different cities from RDU.  Boston will have four weekly flights beginning May 1.  Bradley International will see three weekly flights beginning April 30.  Delta is a competitor in both markets.

[Why all the increased air traffic to North Carolina? Must be burgeoning interest in the Carolina Hurricanes since they put those Whalers jerseys back on the ice!]

Frontier also plans to launch service to Orlando from both Boston’s Logan Airport and Bradley International, and service to Denver from Bradley.  In making the announcement, Frontier pointed out that it “flies one of the youngest fleets in the industry, the Airbus A320 Family of more than 80 jet aircraft. With nearly 200 new planes on order, Frontier will continue to grow to deliver on the mission of providing affordable travel across America.”

In December, Frontier announced it was returning to Bradley with flights to Denver starting March 28, operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.  Southwest and United also fly from Bradley to Denver.

The Raleigh-Durham flights will operate on the same days of the week; the Orlando service will run on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Bradley.

Frontier’s service from Bradley to Raleigh-Durham, Denver and Orlando is described as seasonal.  The services start this spring; the end dates for 2019 have not been announced.

Current pricing for roundtrip flights in May:  from $78 to Raleigh/Durham and Orlando, from $118 to Denver, depending upon length of stay and day of the week of selected flights.

Frontier will be Bradley’s ninth passenger airline.  Other carriers are Aer Lingus, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.  Some of those airlines’ flights from BDL are operated by regional affiliates flying under brands like American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express.

The tenth carrier at BDL will be Via Airlines, which will operate flights to Pittsburgh four times a week, year-round, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays beginning in July.  That announcement also came earlier this month.

Frontier announced last week that the airline and its pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), ratified a new five-year working agreement. Of the 99 percent of pilots who voted, 77 percent cast ballots in favor of the agreement, the company said.

Pedestrian, Cyclist Deaths After Dark Rising Nationally; Highest Rate Among CT Metro Areas in New Haven Region

Across the United States, a total of 4,440 pedestrians and 364 cyclists were killed at night, in dark conditions,  in 2017.  A new analysis reveals that those after-dark fatalities account for the vast majority of all such fatalities each year. The share of all fatalities occurring in dark conditions is slowly rising, climbing from to nearly 72 percent in 2017 from 67 percent in 2010 and 65 percent in 2007.  Roughly a third occur in dark, unlighted conditions, while the other approximately 40 percent are reported near streetlights or other dark, lighted conditions. The analysis, by GOVERNING magazine, looked at the total pedestrian/cyclist deaths and per capita fatality rates for metropolitan areas with populations exceeding 200,000, including four metro areas in Connecticut, 2015-2017.  Total 2015-17 fatalities nationally were 20,004, with 14,153 during hours when it was dark.

The highest number of fatalities in that multi-year period in Connecticut during darkness occurred in the New Haven metropolitan area, 32.  The Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford region has 27 deaths, the Hartford area had 26.  The Norwich-New London region had 5 deaths.

Nationally, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities occurring in all lighting conditions have generally climbed in recent years nationally, but the largest increases are occurring after sunset.

Between 2010 and 2017, annual fatalities in dark conditions (both lighted and unlighted) jumped by 46 percent. Over the same period, they rose only 15 percent in daylight. Totals for dawn (+33 percent) and dusk (+43 percent) lighting conditions also increased significantly, although they accounted for just a few hundred such traffic deaths, GOVERNING reported.

The data breaks down whether the fatality occurred in dark but lighted or dark, unlighted conditions.  In each Connecticut metro area, the vast majority occurred in dark but lighted circumstances.  The numbers were 22-10 in the New Haven area, 22-5 in the Bridgeport region and 21-5 in the Hartford area.

The analysis used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, which records lighting conditions in its traffic fatality database. The federal Office of Management and Budget’s latest definitions for metro areas, current as of September 2018, were used.


Most Expensive States for Car Insurance? CT Ranks Fifth in Survey of 50 States

Connecticut is fifth, but Michigan has been first for five consecutive years in an annual comparison of car insurance rates.  Connecticut is 34 percent more expensive than the national average, according to the criteria used in the state-to-state comparison. When the website insure.com looked to compare car insurance rates, they worked with Quadrant Information Services to calculate car insurance rates for a 40-year old man seeking full coverage from six different major carriers. They tabulated the price quoted in 10 zip codes for every state, looking for the average of a 2018 model-year version of America’s 20 best-selling vehicles.

Their finding: car insurance rates can vary widely depending on the state you call home, and numerous other factors. Connecticut was near the top – in the middle of the top ten most expensive states for car insurance, based on this criteria.  A year ago, Connecticut ranked third.

The website’s analysis pointed out that high vehicle density is one culprit for higher than average premiums. They noted that Connecticut is the fourth densest state in the country and “tons of cars piled into a small space leads to accidents, which leads to claims, which ends in high car insurance rates.”

The top five states with the highest rates were Michigan ($2,239), Louisiana ($2,126), Florida ($2,050), Rhode Island ($1,852) and Connecticut ($1,831).  Rounding out the top ten most expensive states for car insurance, according to the survey, were Washington DC ($1,827), California (1,731), Georgia ($1,668), Delaware ($1,600), and Texas ($1,589).

Across the Northeast, Vermont ranks lowest in the entire country at just $932.  New Hampshire was also among the lowest, at $1,039.  Massachusetts ranked number 38, with an annual premium of $1,176.