Could the ‘free ride’ soon be over in Connecticut?

| 1/21/2011

A leading Connecticut lawmaker wants to end what he believes is a free ride through the state for over-the-road truckers and other drivers. Also, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he is open to charging tolls to get state Route 11 complete.

With a $3.5 billion budget deficit looming over the heads of state officials, Transportation Chairman Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, said he has a plan to help eat into that gap.

Rep. Guerrera is pushing to charge tolls on certain major roadways to bolster revenues for roads. More specifically, all-electronic tolls would be charged at eight key entry points to the state: Interstates 84, 91, 95 and 395, as well as the Merritt Parkway and two each on Interstates 84 and 95, and one each on I-91, I-395, the Merritt Parkway and U.S. Route 6.

?You put up border tolls for $5 a trip, you?re talking $600 million a year in revenue. That?s $18 billion over 30 years. You can?t argue with that,? Guerrera said in a statement.

Guerrera also said that truckers and others passing through the state typically don?t buy fuel in the state because Connecticut has one of the highest fuel tax rates. He said they are using Connecticut roads for free.

Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said that truck drivers already foot quite a bill to travel through 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 the state,? Joyce said.

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.

Guerrera said times have changed since the state last charged people to travel the turnpike. He touts technology advances and a crunch on road dollars for reinstating tolls.

Other toll advocates point out that Connecticut is the only state on the eastern seaboard that doesn?t charge tolls.

Another toll issue that is likely to be brought up during the session focuses on an unfinished stretch of Route 11. The governor has said he wants the road connecting Hartford with southeastern Connecticut to get done, and tolls are an option.

Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, said he plans to introduce a bill that would authorize tolls on the roadway to pay for completing the route, which once was envisioned as a connector to the interstates 95-395 interchange in Waterford.

Malloy said the only way he would sign off on a plan to charge tolls on state roads is if all revenue stays with transportation.

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

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