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 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.

Hartford, New Haven As “Suburbs” of Boston and New York Raises Possibilities - and Pushback

The objective was to provide evidence that Connecticut is on the cusp of a transit renaissance.  But a “thought leader” article by a prominent faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Business – an acknowledged expert in transportation and its impact on residential property values – has drawn a range of reactions from municipal, business and transportation officials in Connecticut, including some pushback. The article, by UConn associate professor of real estate and finance Jeffrey Cohen, stated that “with high speed, inter-state transportation, it would be much easier for Greater Hartford and New Haven to thrive as suburbs of Boston and New York City.  Imagine how great it would be to hop on a fast train to Logan Airport, JFK or LaGuardia.  The world would be at our doorsteps, and our doorsteps would be there for the world to explore.”

The characterization of two of the state’s largest cities as potential “suburbs” of New York and Boston, seemingly overlooking Bradley International Airport and Tweed-New Haven in the process, has raised questions from officials.

“As the second-largest airport in New England and the recently ranked third-best airport in the country, Bradley Airport offers convenience and efficiency that the airports in Boston and New York cannot match. Enhanced rail connectivity to the airport would be a major win for passengers throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, and we would encourage UConn to consider maximizing the airport in its own state rather than promoting the outsourcing of Connecticut’s economy to its neighbors,” Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin A. Dillon, A.A.E, told CT by the Numbers.

“While the Connecticut Airport Authority is supportive of high-speed rail connectivity in Connecticut, it is unfortunate that UConn would not recognize the benefit of promoting and utilizing Bradley International Airport as the primary airport for travelers in the region,” Dillon added.

“With regard to Bradley, Aer Lingus’ commitment to another four years of service between Hartford and Dublin is a huge boon to our economic development efforts and we hope other airlines will take note and pursue additional domestic and international routes,” said MetroHartford Alliance’s Brian Boyer, Vice President of Communications, Marketing, and Media and Public Relations.  “It’s time to continue showing loyalty to our hometown airport as we position ourselves as a global region attracting international companies. With the ease of use at Bradley, brief 90-minute layovers in Dublin en route to destinations throughout Europe, pre-screening on return flights to clear customs before arrival in Hartford and the prospect of attracting new airlines, this flight is a win-win for our community.”

While some officials saw possibilities, as did Cohen, in the potential impact of continued enhancements to the state’s transportation system, they also acknowledged that those changes were not immediate and current assets should be maximized.

“Fast-growing healthcare, pharmaceutical, and technology sectors of the New Haven economy would be well-served with easier access to major markets in New York and Boston, and the international transportation options in those cities as well,” pointed out New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp. “We know one-hour train service between New Haven and New York is technologically feasible: what we need to complete the project is the collective will to make it so.”

“High speed rail offers tremendous opportunities for New Haven.  Our proximity to New York City is already a great selling point for the region, if the commute time became significantly shorter, then we are that much more attractive as a location.  We should strive for this type of transportation improvement,” said Garrett Sheehan, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.

Sheehan went on to emphasize that “planning for the future of transportation should not take away from the present.  This type of high speed rail is years away.  In New Haven, we have an incredible transportation asset in Tweed-New Haven airport.  It is already located within the city limits and just short drive from anywhere in this region.  The Chamber supports expanding the airport’s runway and investing in Tweed to bring back more flights and destinations.  Even a handful of more flights would be beneficial to the economic growth of our region.”

Cohen, who has received national recognition in his field, praised the CTrail Hartford line - which connects New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, MA - and CTfasttrak bus line – which links Hartford and New Britain - noting that “we are starting to see residential and business development near the stations, and this is one of the big benefits of transit.”

He added that “Some people in New York are starting to discover the hidden treasure of relatively low-priced real estate, along with the good schools, beautiful parks, and savory restaurants in central Connecticut.”

“An ideal location with easy access to major cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, we are proud to be at a point where talent and businesses from these markets should consider Hartford as an opportunity for economic growth and development,” the MetroHartford Alliance’s Boyer noted. “Transportation plays an integral role in this growth and with the new Hartford Rail Line and the continued growth at Bradley International Airport as one of the nation’s top mid-sized airports, we look forward to working with our community and prospective businesses to ensure long-term economic growth for generations.”


Progress Cited on Integrating Pedestrian, Bicyclist Safety Into State Transportation Projects

What comes next at the Department of Transportation was on the minds of more than 150 advocates and enthusiasts gathered for the Annual Meeting of Bike-Walk Connecticut  at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain this past weekend.  The fast-approaching close of the Malloy administration may also mean the end of the tenure of DOT Commissioner James Redeker, who has not only walked the walked, but rode the ride in “building and delivering a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle program.” The accelerated change in attitude at DOT since Redeker took the helm in 2011 was evident in his being warmly introduced as a friend prior to his keynote address – not the adversary that previous vehicle-centric commissioners may have been.  He went on to highlight the department’s work on state projects, and in concert with municipalities, that is steadily transforming Connecticut into a more pedestrian and bike-friendly state.

Redeker’s presentation demonstrated why.  Among the highlights:

  • Connecticut has or will be constructing 97 miles of multi-use trails along side road construction or reconstruction through 2021, and 35 miles of sidewalks accompanying road construction.
  • A vendor-in-place resurfacing program has meant that 94 percent of roadways reconstructed have been restriped with wider shoulders, and roadway safety audits have been conducted on 145 miles of roadway and at 917 intersections.
  • Enhanced pedestrian signage and pavement markets at uncontrolled crosswalks have been included in 1200 locations on state roads, with an additional 1500 locations planned for local roads in 2019. In addition 133 locations are planned for upgraded pedestrian controls at signalized intersections by 2020.
  • 125 projects have been reviewed for Complete Streets design in 2017, with an additional 97 projects reviewed thus far in 2018. More than 80 Road Safety Audits have been conducted.

Driving the “absolutely amazing statistics” is a changed policy, Redeker said.  Now, supporting “safe access for all users by providing a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options” is ingrained at DOT.  He noted that integrating trails is occurring regularly on major projects, with the goal of building a statewide trail system.

“Complete streets is now part of the DOT DNA,” Redeker explained.  Responding to some who question the lack of such plans as part of the agency’s manual, Redeker cited the statistics, adding, “look at us for outcomes, not manuals.”  The numbers – and the accomplishments - drew solid reviews in the room.

The agency’s Complete Streets program, established in 2014, established a new unit to review every project specifically for bicyclist and pedestrian needs, and requires project designers to evaluate and prepare a written assessment of pedestrian needs on every project.  A standing committee was also formed to guide and implement policy and practices, Redeker pointed out.

He noted that the changes are evident in large cities and small towns in Connecticut, from Hartford New Haven to Waterford and Washington.  He also highlighted the introduction of roundabouts in Connecticut communities, including Monroe, Seymour and Ellington, and Community Connectivity Grants that have funded 40 small-scale local projects totaling $12 million, with another 40 to be requested for upcoming State Bond Commission agendas, with an estimated cost of $13.4 million.

Upgrades in school warning signs include the replacement of traditional yellow signage with fluorescent yellow-green to enhance visibility was completed in 2015.  Pedestrian warning signs were replaced on state routes in 2017, and are on schedule to be upgraded on local routes in 2019 and include greater use of yield bars on pavement.

Upgrades in school wanting signs include the replacement of traditional yellow signage with fluorescent yellow-green to enhance visibility, and greater use of yield bars on pavement.  Signs were replaced on state routes in 2017, and are on schedule to be upgraded on local routes in 2019. 

Traffic signals are also being replaced along state roadways, with “pedestrian safety our number one concern,” Redeker stressed.  It is an extensive task.  Connecticut has more traffic signals that exceed 30 years old, more than any other New England state and the 10th highest volume in the U.S.

Mention of the state’s “Watch For Me” campaign drew extended applause – the comprehensive initiative seeks to alert the public to the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists, to underscore the importance of assuring safety and police enforcement.


Connecticut's State Gas Tax is Sixth Highest in the US; Two States Seek to Defeat Increases

Connecticut’s state gas tax – criticized both because some consider it to be too high and because others point out that it is insufficient to keep the state’s roads and bridges maintained appropriately – is not among the highest in the nation, but comes close. Leading the way with the highest state gas tax levels are Pennsylvania (59 cents a gallon), California (54 cents), Washington (49 cents), Hawaii (48 cents), and New York (46 cents).  Connecticut is the nation’s sixth highest, at 44 cents a gallon, followed by Indiana (42 cents), Florida, Michigan and New Jersey (41 cents).

In California, voters will see a referendum question on the November ballot that if passed would repeal a gas tax increase (12 cents a gallon) that was passed by the state legislature a year ago as part of a comprehensive transportation funding package to pay for highway, road and bridge repairs, as well as public transit projects in the state.  Recent polls predict a close vote on Proposition 6.

In Missouri, voters will consider Proposition D, which would increase the fuel tax in that state by 2.5 cents a year for four years, totaling 10 cents a gallon. The proposal is intended to provide a stable funding stream to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, as well as millions of dollars to the Missouri Department of Transportation to repair and maintain the state's highways and bridges, according to published reports.

New Jersey’s gas tax, which had been one of the lowest in the nation, was increased in 2016 by 23 cents per gallon under a bipartisan deal engineered by then-Chris Christie and the Legislature.  That pushed New Jersey into the top 10 highest rates in the nation, and was the state’s first gas tax increase since 1988, according to news stories at the time.

In total, 27 states have raised or reformed their gas taxes since 2013.  Indiana instituted a 10-cent increase in 2017; Oregon approved a 10-cent phase-in that began this year. The South Carolina legislature overrode a Governor’s veto to enact a 12-cent-per- gallon increase in the tax rate to be phased in over 6 years, according to data compiled by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  Oklahoma’s legislature approved a 3 cent increase this year - that state’s first since 1987.

The federal government last raised the gasoline tax 25 years ago in 1993, since then the states – in the vast majority of instances – have nudged tax rates upward in their individual jurisdictions.  The lowest state rates are in Alaska (15 cents a gallon), Missouri and Oklahoma (17 cents), Mississippi, Arizona and New Mexico (19 cents).

308 Structurally Deficient Bridges Across CT: Average Age 69 Years

Just last month, it was revealed that more than 1,500 of California’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. More than half – 56 percent – of California’s bridges are at least 50 years old – the eighth highest rate in the nation. Yesterday, it was announced that 59 percent of Connecticut’s more than 4,000 bridges are 50 years or older, the fourth highest rate in the nation. The average age of all Connecticut’s bridges is 53 years, while the average age of the state’s 308 structurally deficient bridges – seven percent of the total - is 69 years.  Structurally deficient bridges in Connecticut are crossed daily by 4.3 million vehicles.

Both reports were done by TRIP, a national transportation research group, based on an analysis of Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory (2017).  The organization did a similar report about Wisconsin, also released this week.  It found that nine percent of Wisconsin’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient.

Connecticut has 4,252 bridges (20 feet or longer), compared with 14,253 in Wisconsin and 25,657 in California.

The 20-page Connecticut report indicated that “To retain businesses, accommodate population and economic growth, maintain economic competitiveness, and achieve further economic growth, Connecticut will need to maintain and modernize its bridges by repairing or replacing deficient bridges and providing needed maintenance on other bridges to ensure that they remain in good condition as long as possible.”

The report also noted that “annually, $489 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Connecticut, largely by truck,” adding that “approximately 731,000 full-time jobs in Connecticut in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.”

Hartford, Fairfield and New Haven counties each have 60 or more structurally deficient bridges, with 65, 61 and 60 respectively.  Litchfield County has 39; New London County has 32.  The report listed Middlesex County with 22, Windham County with 17 and Tolland County with 12.

The report also sounded an alarm for Connecticut, a state seeking to attract and retain businesses to bolster a sluggish economy:  “Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.”

Highway accessibility, the report pointed out, was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2017 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

“Without a substantial boost in federal, state and local funding, numerous projects to improve and preserve Connecticut’s bridges will not be able to proceed, hampering the state’s ability to improve the condition of its transportation system and to support economic development opportunities in the state,” the report concluded.

This summer,  CT by the Numbers reported on a ranking developed by CNBC, found that 73 percent of Connecticut roads are in bad shape, giving the state a grade of D, while noting that nearly 8 percent of Connecticut’s bridges are deficient.

2017 Was A No-Growth Year for CT Hotel Industry; 2018 Brings Lower Rates

The Connecticut Lodging Association reports that the state’s hotel and lodging occupancy numbers were flat in 2017, with “little to no growth.”  The state’s occupancy numbers have “considerable room to grow” this year, in comparison to the New England Market.  The membership association also notes that one of the traditionally strongest regions of the state, the Stamford market, declined in 2017, while the neighboring New York market remained stable. “The Stamford market historically has the highest occupancy numbers in Connecticut,” officials point out, noting that “with business travel, leisure and New York City overflow, this market is generally stable and measure equal occupancy to New England’s numbers.  That wasn’t true in 2017, and they warn that “Stamford’s declining trend may be a forecast for other Connecticut markets.”

Overall, data for Connecticut compiled by the American Hotel & Lodging Association indicate that the state’s 400 properties in the hotel industry generate 55,000 hospitality jobs and 27,00 hotel hobs, which result in $4.4 billion guest spending at hotels, local businesses and on transportation.  The industry contributes $5.1 billion to GDP.

Connecticut has the highest combined lodging and sales tax in the nation at 15 percent, according to HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment’s most recent state-by-state study in 2017, one of just five states in double digits along with Maine, Hawaii, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Adding in local lodgings taxes in many cities nationally — Connecticut law does not allow it — 34 cities have higher combined rates than in Connecticut, HVS determined, none in the Northeast. St. Louis led the nation in 2017 at nearly 18 percent, with New York City highest in the Northeast with a 14.75 percent rate that is only a fraction below that of Connecticut, Hearst newspapers recently reported.

Earlier this month, a survey by found that Hartford and Stamford hotels offer the lowest rates for travelers in New England, with hotel stays averaging $107 per night in the Capitol City and $126 in Stamford. Among the other New England cities with low hotel rates are in North Conway, N.H. ($117), Groton ($119), and Lincoln, N.H. ($124).

The survey reviewed hotel rates at 30 popular destinations in New England during August. Hotels in New Haven ranked 19th (most expensive in Connecticut) with rooms averaging $174 a day and Mystic at 21st with rooms costing $168.

The most expensive in New England?  Martha's Vineyard, Mass. ($362), Kennebunkport, Maine ($347), Chatham, Mass. ($324), Portland, Maine ($294) and Provincetown, Mass. ($284). Boston ranked 9th, at $224.