Calling the plan for Connecticut to put a toll on the approximately one-mile stretch of I-684 that runs through Greenwich, Conn., “an unfair taxation of those who do not have a voice,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer was scheduled today to have his voice added to the official record of a hearing in Hartford.
A plan for creating new highway tolls throughout Connecticut was proposed by the Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. It included placing a toll gantry at a spot along the section of I-684 that runs through Greenwich. The plan originally included cars and trucks, but was scaled back to exclude cars after fierce opposition emerged.
But next week’s expected vote on tolls has been canceled by Democrat legislators, leaving its future in doubt. An official reason for the vote’s postponement had not been provided. Lamont and fellow Democrats had hoped to pass the bill in a special session before the regular session starts on Feb. 5.
The plan was to place tolls 12 locations throughout Connecticut. Trucks would be required to pay immediately and critics said there was nothing to stop the tolls from being expanded to include cars.
Democratic members of the Connecticut state legislature had called a public hearing on the toll plan for 1 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Latimer submitted written testimony to the legislators and Carolyn Fortino of his communications staff was scheduled to read his comments into the record during the hearing. Latimer could not travel to Hartford because he had been scheduled to testify at a state budget forum in Greenburgh held by the Westchester delegation to the New York State Assembly.
“It would be the same as if we placed a toll on the Port Chester side of the Interstate 95 bridge that crosses over the Byram River,” Latimer said in his testimony on the plan for a toll on I-684. “Connecticut stands to gain an estimated $13 million to rehabilitate that causeway – a tremendous enhancement to the state’s transportation needs – and an additional $5 million a year in revenue for the Greenwich toll. But the tax would be largely on the backs of New York state truck drivers.”
“We don’t believe in retaliatory border tolls. We are all neighbors, and this will create an unhealthy relationship between the two states,” Latimer’s testimony stated. “The fear is that even with a toll on trucks only, avoidance traffic would follow on New York’s local roads, primarily Route 120 and Route 22. Drivers could exit the interstate at Westchester County Airport and drive up Route 120 to Route 22, to continue on their journey north. The congestion would clog one lane in each direction for those seeking to skip the toll, and some impact would result on Connecticut side roads as well. This will ultimately become a real quality-of-life issue for all those who live and work close by.
Latimer’s testimony continued: “Ultimately, this toll enables the enhancement of Connecticut’s infrastructure, by imposing a toll on New York’s commuters without justification. As Westchester officials, we are tasked to protect Westchester’s residents, and will continue to do so in the future as this proposal moves forward. We urge you to reconsider the proposal for a toll on Interstate 684, and forego that toll option.”