Op-ed: Would a Long Island Sound Tunnel Help Revive Connecticut’s Failing Economy?

UConn Today

Connecticut’s economy has been shrinking since 2008; it desperately needs to find a way back to growth. Long Island’s economy is choking because of the necessity of everything going in or out through New York City. An interstate collaboration to “bridge” the Sound might address both challenges.
Past studies – a half century of them! – highlighted daunting construction costs, insufficient traffic, inadequate toll revenue, and environmental issues to justify a crossing project. But given the large scale of the current Long Island economy, the chokehold of logistics requiring everything to navigate the New York City metro, and the challenge Connecticut is facing to restore economic growth (Connecticut’s economy, shrinking since 2008, is now smaller than it was in 2004), the question now is whether linking Long Island and Connecticut would be mutually beneficial.
That half-century of studies, including Gov. Cuomo’s latest one, looked only at the huge, intimidating costs, but failed to consider whether the broad economic benefits – opening up new opportunities for business creation and thus job creation, improved logistics for the Long Island economy, expanded markets, benefits to Connecticut businesses and communities, generation of new tax revenues, etc. – would make a Long Island crossing nevertheless beneficial for both regions. Would such a massive public infrastructure project pay for itself over time as a result of the broad regional benefits it would generate?
The best way to answer this question is to develop a comprehensive dynamic economic impact analysis, one looking out over a 25-year time horizon to project business growth, job creation, demographic impacts, incremental tax revenues, an analysis that the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis (CCEA) at UConn, in partnership with REMI Inc., of Amherst, Massachusetts, is undertaking. To begin to develop appropriate data, CCEA has already initiated an online survey of businesses. The survey asks, for example, how individual businesses would utilize cross-Sound access to expand …

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