Connecticut study, bill tout tolls

| 2/1/2007

A legislative panel in Connecticut has recommended the state consider returning tolls to its highways to bolster revenues for roads and combat congestion. One state lawmaker is on board with the suggestion.

The state's Transportation Strategy Board issued its report that calls for legislation to pay for a comprehensive review and analysis of electronic tolls and congestion pricing to generate revenue, The Associated Press reported. The report doesn't include a cost projection.

Board members said that without new revenue sources, numerous highway projects that are planned will not make it off the drawing board.

Connecticut 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 the roadway.

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.

With that in mind, Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, has offered a bill that calls for a study to be done to decide whether to place toll booths along highways in the state.

Prague is interested in placing tolls at the state's borders, the Norwich Bulletin reported.

If bringing back tolls is not an option for generating revenue for roads, bonding is being touted as another source.

A bill in the state's House would authorize the use of bonds for work along Interstate 95.

Sponsored by Rep. Peter Panaroni, D-Branford, the bill would direct the revenue to be used to renovate exit 53 in Branford to create full entrance and exit ramps in all directions.

Panaroni wrote in the bill that the ramps would help reduce traffic on state Route 1.

Prague's bill - SB121 - and Panaroni's bill - HB5091 - are in committee.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor