Connecticut’s long-awaited transportation bill, which will include tolls for tractor-trailers on 12 highways around Connecticut, including Interstate 684, should be finished early next week, according to Democratic leaders.
The bill, which would institute Gov. Ned Lamont’s 10-year, $19 billion CT2030 transportation initiative, would then be subject to a five-day public comment period before being voted upon. Democrats said they are working to release its details to the public on Jan. 21.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, indicated that the vote would take place during a special session the week of Jan. 27. The next regular session begins on Feb. 5.
While bringing electronic tolls back to Connecticut’s highways has been a contentious issues between state Democrats and Republicans – and CT2030’s inclusion of a gantry on a 1.4-mile stretch of I-684 in New York that passes through Greenwich has caused great perturbation among New Yorkers – a pair of new polls would appear to indicate the public is in favor of the idea.
A poll of 500 likely voters conducted Jan. 6-9 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that 51% of respondents were in favor of the initiative and 42% were against. That follows a recent Hartford Courant Sacred Heart University poll of 1,000 residents, which found 47.5% of respondents supporting a trucks-only toll system, including 62.1% of Democrats and 38.8% of Republicans. Just 34.7% supported tolls in a March 2019 poll, although at that time Lamont was seeking tolls on all vehicles at 50 gantries.
As for concerns that it could only be a matter of time before “trucks-only” becomes “all vehicles,” Democratic leaders said the legislation would specify that tolls for passenger cars will not be allowed.
Under the current plan, tolls would be located at:
- I-84 over the Housatonic River on the Newtown-Southbury border, at the Rochambeau Bridge
- I-95 over Metro-North Commuter Railroad bridge in Stamford
- I-95 over Route 33 in Westport
- I-684 over the Byram River in Greenwich
- The Mixmaster at the intersection of Routes 84 and 8 in Waterbury
- I-84 over Berkshire Road in West Hartford
- The Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford
- I-95 over the Metro-North railroad in West Haven
- I-95 over Route 161 in East Lyme
- The Gold Star Memorial Bridge between Groton and New London on I-95 over the Thames River
- I-395 over the Moosup River in Plainfield
- Route 8 south of I-84 in Waterbury
Republicans, who have long been steadfast in their opposition to tolls of any kind, expressed their dissatisfaction with the governor for not sharing the bill’s details with them ahead of the vote.
“He submitted a tolls bill to Democrat legislative leaders, but he won’t share it with the public, the press, rank-and-file Democrats, or any Republican lawmaker,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “Republicans have asked the governor’s office for details on the new plan repeatedly through letters and direct outreach and have still not received answers to any of our questions, let alone a copy of the bill.
“If Gov. Lamont is confident in his plan,” Fasano continued, “why won’t he share it with the public, or at the very least the lawmakers who he is asking to vote on it? What doesn’t he want us to know? I can only assume something is in the bill, or not in the bill, that he wants to keep away from the public.
“We are talking about a $19 billion cost for state taxpayers, and there is zero transparency,” he concluded. “It’s outrageous that Republicans cannot even get a response to our questions and lawmakers from both parties are being kept in the dark.”