Advocates for improving transportation in Connecticut want
the state to take a hard look at reviving tolls to raise revenue for
Earlier this month, two panels assigned by the state to
study transportation along Interstates 395 and 95 in eastern Connecticut backed
a plan for a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of charging drivers
to use state highways.
According to The Day in New London, CT, committee
members endorsed the proposal after a presentation from Transportation Strategy
Board Chairman R. Nelson Griebel, who estimated the study would cost as much as
$2 million. The board advises lawmakers and the governor on transportation
The board also told Gov. M. Jodi Rell that the state would
need to spend more than $4 billion during the next decade to make significant
improvements to its roads, ports and mass transit. The governor responded with
a $1.3 billion plan, funded by increasing Connecticut’s fuel tax by 6 cents per
gallon in the next nine years.
The proposed fuel tax increase would create an additional
$13 million to $15 million a year in revenue. Much of the money would be used
to increase and improve traffic flow and repair ramps on I-95.
Other designations for the money include $150 million for
improvements to I-84 and I-91; $7.5 million for new buses; and $667 million to
add 342 new passenger rail cars to the Metro-North railroad fleet.
Drivers were freed from paying to use Connecticut highways
in 1985 after accidents near tollbooths raised safety concerns. Critics also
pointed out the original purpose of the tolls were to pay off the cost of
construction – a task that had been achieved.
Today, toll advocates say such systems as EZ-Pass would be
far more sophisticated than the tollbooths of 20 years ago and could be ready
to go in as little as four years, the Republican-American reported.
Griebel said other strategies such as higher fees during
rush hours and penalty fees for entering the highway and exiting only a couple
of exits later could be utilized.
Lawmakers in the General Assembly have not yet introduced
any bills to bring back tolls. Griebel, however, told The Day he is
optimistic that legislation would be considered before the session ends in