Connecticut lawmaker touts tolling

| 7/17/2008

If a Connecticut state lawmaker gets his way, the state soon would return tolls to certain highways to bolster revenues for roads.

Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, has targeted over-the-road truck drivers and other travelers to help bridge the funding gap for needed roadwork. As a result, the state’s fuel tax could be reduced, he said.

Gaffey told WFSB-TV in Hartford, CT, that a large number of out-of-state motorists who visit casinos in Connecticut don’t have to pay a toll to get there.

In addition, he said that the state is the gateway for truckers to travel into New York City and Boston. He also said that truckers typically don’t buy fuel in the state and don’t help cover the costs of maintenance for damage done to roadways.

Mike Joyce, senior government affairs representative for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said that Gaffey would be well served to look more in depth at what truck drivers are responsible for paying to states, including Connecticut.

“Truckers may not buy fuel in Connecticut, but every time they drive their roads they have to pay whatever Connecticut’s fuel tax is for every mile they run in Connecticut,” Joyce told Land Line.

“The Senator needs an education in taxes 101 in the state of Connecticut.”

State officials removed tolls from the Connecticut Turnpike in the mid 80s. Concerns about safety and congestion spurred the state to remove toll booths that were scattered across roadways.

An incident where a runaway truck with a sleeping driver struck three cars lined up at the Interstate 95 toll plaza in Stratford, killing four women and three children, hastened the removal of the toll booths, The Stamford Advocate reported.

Supporters of reinstating tolls say times have changed since the state last charged people to travel the turnpike. They tout technology advances and a crunch on road dollars for reinstating tolls.

Others say it doesn’t make sense to expect fuel taxes to cover the cost of maintenance for the state’s roads. They point out that Connecticut is the only state on the eastern seaboard that doesn’t charge tolls.

An official with the Connecticut Motor Club said the group advocates AAA’s policy that all roads should be toll-free. Tolls amount to double taxation, spokeswoman Fran Mayko told The Record-Journal in Meriden.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Connecticut in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor