New York senator calls out Connecticut's tolling proposal

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 4/1/2015

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says local communities along the New York-Connecticut border could face thousands of extra cars and trucks on their roadways if Connecticut goes through with tolling Interstate 95.

Diversion of traffic seeking to avoid tolls remains one of the top concerns about tolling from a standpoint of safety and congestion.

Schumer asked Connecticut to be a “good neighbor” and consider the effects of traffic diversion on New York’s border communities such as Rye and Port Chester.

“This toll has the potential to clog local roads, increase air pollution, hinder business activity and impede emergency response efforts. That is why New York State communities, particularly Rye and Port Chester, should be consulted on the proposal before it moves further,” Schumer stated in a press release on Tuesday, March 31, following a town hall meeting.

The Connecticut House and Senate’s Joint Committee on Transportation approved a proposal in mid-March to pursue the collection of tolls on traffic entering Connecticut from New York on I-95.

According to a study by the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, 140,000 vehicles enter Connecticut on I-95 each day and the likely diversion rate for those seeking to avoid the tolls would be in the neighborhood of 10 percent.

Schumer also cites air quality, negative effects on small businesses and other factors related to increasing traffic congestion in the affected communities.

Schumer says residents have expressed concerns, but their grievances are not being heard across the state line. He is urging the U.S. Federal Highway Administration not to greenlight the proposal until New Yorkers get a say in the matter.

Any effort to toll interstate highways or bridges must receive FHWA approval before it can move forward.

A handful of states around the country have applied to toll interstates in recent years under the FHWA’s Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program. While some have received FHWA approval, no state or entity has successfully converted a toll-free interstate to a toll road under the program.

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