Connecticut bills to address road safety issues die

| 5/9/2007

A bill in the Connecticut statehouse has died that was intended to improve safety for drivers on Avon Mountain. Two other bills relevant to trucks also have died.

The Committee on Judiciary rejected the bill that would have authorized the cities of Avon and West Hartford to conduct a pilot program of automated speed enforcement on Route 44 over the mountain. Violators would have faced up to $100 fines.

The roots of the bill – SB439 – can be traced back to a deadly truck crash in July 2005 that killed four people and injured 19 in the town of Avon. It happened when a dump truck slammed into other vehicles that were stopped at the bottom of the mountain’s steep grade at the intersection of state Routes 44 and 10. Since then, various safety-related bills have come before lawmakers in the state.

Two other bills of interest died after failing to advance from committee prior to a deadline.

The first bill – HB5287 – would have made certain truck drivers responsible for paying more tax to the state. Towns would have been allowed to levy a tax on each truckload of rocks, dirt or other materials removed from a construction site.

The other bill – HB5031 – was intended to aid businesses in the state that do truck repairs. Neighboring states Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, as well as New Jersey, offer sales tax exemptions for some or all maintenance costs on large trucks.

Sponsored by Rep. Joseph C. Serra, D-Middletown, the Connecticut bill would have exempted the sales tax on parts and labor for repairs to trucks and motor vehicles in the state weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

Serra wrote that the exemption potentially would “stop major fleets from going out of state for repairs, thus keeping the Connecticut repair industry competitive.”