“Nobody wants a toll war,” New York state Sen. Peter Harckham said at a press conference announcing a plan to install tolls targeted at Connecticut drivers.
Harckham, whose 40th District includes northern Westchester County as well as parts of Putnam and Dutchess counties, used the Dec. 16 event to lay out a plan that would impose tolls along the New York/Connecticut border with the revenue going toward infrastructure repairs.
Harckham’s plan would install gantries on six state and county roads that cross the state line in the towns of Pound Ridge, Lewisboro and North Salem. He said he would also support placing a toll on the Hutchinson River Parkway just before it becomes the Merritt Parkway upon entering Connecticut.
License plate readers would charge only out-of-state drivers, allowing New York residents to continue driving on those roads free of charge.
“We don’t want it to come to this, but if so, I am willing to and prepared to submit legislation that would put tolls all along the Connecticut border so that we can pay for infrastructure repairs,” he said. “The revenue would be shared, after debt service, with these local municipalities.”
The senator’s move is in response to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s controversial proposal to add 12 trucks-only toll gantries in the Nutmeg State – specifically, one on a 1.4-mile stretch of I-684 that passes through Greenwich but which is actually located in New York State. Calling that part of Lamont’s tolls package “particularly galling,” Harckham said that the Empire State has been responsible for maintaining that portion of 684 since Gov. Nelson Rockefeller was in office some 50 years ago.
“It strikes me and many others as particularly galling that Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and other Connecticut officials are going ahead with put a toll in place on the small 1.4-mile stretch of I-684 that crosses into Connecticut to pay for roadway infrastructure repairs in Connecticut,” Harckham stated.
Even with Lamont’s trucks-only proposal, instead of his original plan to toll all vehicles, the cost to New York would be some $6 million, the senator said.
Harckham expressed hope that his gambit would encourage Lamont and other Connecticut officials to meet with their New York counterparts to discuss a mutually acceptable solution to regional transportation issues.
There was no immediate response from Lamont or fellow Connecticut Democrats. Connecticut Republicans have consistently rejected tolling of any kind.
Lewisboro Supervisor Peter Parsons and Pound Ridge Supervisor Kevin Hansan showed their support for Harckham at the press conference, while U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, a Harrison Democrat, has previously asked Connecticut to drop the I-684 toll plan.
Connecticut legislators are discussing holding a special legislative session next month to take up the tolls issue.