State lawmakers debate highway tolls

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Dannel Malloy has made it clear that upgrading the state’s transportation system is one of his top legislative priorities. As a rule, state lawmakers agree that Connecticut’s roads, rail lines, and bridges are in need of a makeover, the question is how to raise the billions of dollars needed to make it happen.

Wednesday, lawmakers in the Finance Committee debated the pros and cons of re-instating highway tolls on six major highways in the state. State Senator Scott Franz of Greenwich was outspoken in his opposition to the idea.

“You’re going to have backups on the exits,” said Franz, R-Greenwich. “You’re going to have absolute mayhem.”

“You will create parking lots in my towns of Enfield and Suffield, and I also represent Somers and Granby that will feed into that,” said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield.

Others contend tolls are the best way for the state to raise the needed revenue. The CEO of an organization that represents toll facilities around the world told committee members that the technology has improved dramatically since the deadly crash at a toll plaza in Stratford in 1983.

“The practice and technology of collecting has significantly advance in the last 30 years and no longer requires toll plazas or collectors creating traffic queues and delay issues,” said Patrick Jones, CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association.

The bill will continue to make its way through the legislative process over the next few days. It could move forward as is, changes to it could be made, or it may just die in committee.

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