WESTPORT, Conn. -- Putting the spotlight on transportation woes in southern Fairfield County, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said upgrading the rails and highways "is one of the most important things I can do," in a recent talk to the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston.
The first Connecticut senator to serve on the Appropriations Committee in more than 30 years, Murphy sought a seat on the Transportation Subcommittee to make such improvements a priority.
"It’s not just quality of life, this is our economic lifeline in this state. If we don’t figure out Metro-North and I-95 and do it soon, then our entire economy will wither on the vine” Murphy said in a speech at the Unitarian Church in Westport.
He used the Walk Bridge in Norwalk the case in point. “It’s a miracle it still opens,” Murphy said of the bridge that carries Metro-North over Norwalk Harbor. We must reverse past under-investment in the Northeast rail corridor, he said. “It cannot survive without improvements.”
Funds to upgrade the Corridor are available. There is an uncommitted $300 million appropriation, he said, and the Appropriations Committee has established a new Capital Improvements Account.
As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, Murphy wants to bring America’s mental and physical health systems together. He noted that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza slipped through the system unnoticed and untreated.
Murphy also spoke positively on the economy. “I am an optimist about where this country is going," he said. “The economy is growing and deficits are shrinking.“
Jobs are coming back, and deficits are down from 10 percent of gross domestic product during the recession to under three percent today, he said. The U.S. is also less energy dependent.
“We will be the world’s largest oil and gas producer within the next decade,” Murphy said.
“Immigration is producing favorable demographics,” he said, with the country’s average age among the youngest in the world. That is a factor in making the U.S. “increasingly globally competitive,” Murphy said.
He closed by challenging the group: Voters “have a responsibility to make me smarter.”