Gov. Ned Lamont and the co-chairs of the legislature’s Transportation Committee have released some – but by no means all – of the details of the Democrat-led plan to return electronic tolls to several of Connecticut’s highways.
State Republicans, meanwhile, vowed to continue to fight against tolls.
Among the details released by Lamont, state Sen. Carlo Leone and Rep. Roland Lemar:
- Tolls gantries will be placed roughly every six to seven miles on I-84, I-95, I-91 and Route 15. People who use a Connecticut EZ-Pass and a frequent-user discount could expect to pay roughly 25-30 cents per gantry, or 4.4 cents per mile;
- Forty percent of the revenue from tolls will be paid for by out-of-state drivers;
- There will be no more than 50 gantries; and
- Additional consideration of ways to mitigate the costs for Connecticut drivers.
“We have an opportunity to truly address Connecticut’s decades-old transportation woes, which are severely hampering our ability to get our state’s economy growing again, and do so in a way that out-of-state drivers will help pay for their wear and tear on our roads,” Lamont said.
“Working with the leaders of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, we are crafting a proposal that provides the maximum discount to Connecticut drivers, provides additional support for low-income individuals and families, and raises the funding necessary to get our state moving again,” he continued. “Our proposal is supported by a broad coalition of local, business, labor, and legislative leaders and improves our transportation system without passing 100 percent of the cost on Connecticut taxpayers and future generations.”
Not part of that support are members of the state GOP, led by Senate Republican President Pro Tempore and longtime tolls opponent Len Fasano.
“They are going to determine how much they are going to charge without one legislator weighing in,” Fasano said at an April 10 press conference. “How disrespectful could you be to the people of the state of Connecticut by saying, ‘Give us the authority and then we’ll tell you how much, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it?’ That is simply outrageous.”
The GOP prefers a plan whereby some $700 million in additional bonding is allocated for transportation projects, with that money repaid by the state’s Special Transportation Fund – projected to be running at a deficit by Fiscal Year 2023-24 and be insolvent soon after – and from the state’s General Fund.
“Most of us on both sides of the aisle agree on the magnitude of our transportation woes,” Lemar said. “However, the misleading public messaging on the other side continues to confuse people. The fact is that transportation infrastructure has been a legislative priority for many decades, but partisan politics have gotten in the way of making real progress and we are at a tipping point where we must act before it gets worse.
“As the supposedly fiscally responsible party, I am surprised that Republicans are willing to push upgrade costs onto our children and grandchildren for decades to come instead of taking a feasible approach today,” he continued. “Their borrowing plan, plain and simple, will result in an income tax increase, period. The plan we are considering today is realistic and doesn’t place the burden solely on Connecticut taxpayers.”
Added Lamont: “We remain committed to passing a proposal that reflects the feedback and suggestions from members of the legislature, who – like us – know that the ratings agencies and businesses alike are watching our debate on this critical issue. We continue to discuss the full proposal and look forward to working with our colleagues to best support Connecticut’s economic development and growth.”