- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - State officials moved ahead Tuesday and voted to borrow the $24.9 million needed to pay for the first block of projects under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed transportation overhaul.

The State Bond Commission, which is chaired by the Democratic governor, approved the projects identified in a five-year ramp-up initiative known as the “Let’s Go CT!” It is the precursor to Malloy’s proposed 30-year, $100 billion overall of Connecticut’s transportation system.

“The approval of these allocations today marks the official start of a new era in modernizing and improving infrastructure - our roads, our rail, transit system, flight paths and walkways,” he said.

The initiatives that received bond funding on Tuesday are mostly design and engineering work.

The list includes:

- $10 million for design and engineering work needed to eventually widen parts of I-84 in Danbury to ease rush-hour traffic.

- $1 million in design and engineering work to improve the interchange near the area of I-91, I-691 and Route 15 in Meriden and Middletown that’s frequently prone to bottlenecks.

- $1 million to design and engineer the eventual replacement of the so-called “Mixmaster” interchange between I-84 and Route 8 in Waterbury. Malloy said the actual replacement of the interchange could cost upward of $10 billion.

- $7 million to install real-time location devices on public transit buses statewide so riders can locate any public transit bus using an app on their mobile devices.

- $500,000 to study expanding bus services to parts of Connecticut without public transit.

- $500,000 to begin expanding the CTfasttrack rapid bus system east of Hartford to Manchester.

- $500,000 to study how to coordinate paratransit services statewide.

Other projects that received funding include a new dock yard on the Danbury Branch Rail Line in Norwalk and $400,000 to study how the state can develop a bus rapid transit corridor for Route 1, between Norwalk and Stamford.

Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said Tuesday’s funding approvals marked the first allotment from the $2.8 billion set aside for the five years to fund the “Let’s Go CT!” projects. Additional allotments will be approved in the coming months and years.

“It’s what we thought we could get going immediately,” he said, adding how the list includes plans for long-term projects like the “Mixmaster” or initiatives that can be pursued right away like the real-time bus information.

Meanwhile, a nonpartisan commission put together by Malloy is still working on recommendations for how to pay for the governor’s overall $100 billion, 30-year transportation plan. The group was scheduled to meet on Wednesday. Its ultimate proposals aren’t expected until this fall.

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