Work continues at the Connecticut statehouse to end the state’s distinction as the lone New England state without any kind of tolling program. A fuel tax cut could be included to help bolster support for a toll plan.
Gov. Ned Lamont has been active in his first months in office to get a deal done to add toll gantries to the state’s busiest roadways. The Democratic governor’s plan would raise $800 million annually, with out-of-state drivers paying 40 percent of the tolls.
The Transportation and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees have approved the Democrat-led bill to implement the governor’s recommendations to collect all-electronic tolls on all users. HB7202 specifies that tolls would be collected on Interstates 84, 91, and 95 and state Route 15.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation would be responsible for setting toll rates.
Republicans at the statehouse, and some Democrats, are opposed to the plan.
The GOP has unveiled an alternative plan. Their proposal is a five-step transportation improvement strategy that includes $375 million in annual borrowing over five years, public-private partnerships, and to prioritize funding for infrastructure needs.
“We all agree that Connecticut cannot wait to fix our transportation system any longer,” Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said in released remarks. “No one has advocated for immediate action more vehemently that Republicans, but we don’t believe tolls are the answer.”
Fasano said he hopes Democrats will consider the GOP’s “more layered solution to a complex problem.”
Lamont says the majority of Connecticut residents support tolling, as long as revenue raised stays with transportation.
“Republicans and Democrats agree: Connecticut’s transportation system is hampering our ability to compete and grow, and we must make the investments necessary now if we have any hope of changing this trajectory,” Lamont wrote.
In spite of Lamont’s assurance of public support, 30 protests around the state have led to 18 towns passing anti-toll resolutions according to the Hartford Courant. As recently as this past Saturday, more than 1,500 protested the proposal at the state’s capitol.
Negotiations continue at the capitol to wrangle enough support to get the legislation to the governor’s desk.
One component being considered is a nickel reduction in the state’s fuel tax collection.
Additionally, truck parking needs could get attention. A provision being discussed would authorize reopening all state-run welcome centers, and keeping facilities staffed throughout the day.
The bill can next be considered by the full House and Senate.
Connecticut residents protest tolls championed by Gov. Ned Lamont at a rally May 18. (Photo courtesy NoTollsCT.org, used with permission.)
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