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But a linchpin of the CRCOG plan is a busway between Hartford and New Britain, a small city 9 miles from the capitol. The plan aims to speed commutes along car-choked Interstate 84 by creating a separate channel for buses.

After at least 12 years of intermittent talk about the idea, the state is poised to go ahead with the idea. If it were built, Wray says, it would afford a rare chance for transit-oriented development in the region.

But a rising price-tag has revived opponents of the busway. Summing up the threat to all of Obama's urban agenda, Wray sizes up the odds facing big ideas: “The political and financial environment is not very friendly.”