Dems push for tolls in final days of session

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Looking for ways to raise revenues in the last week of the legislative session, House Democrats led by Transportation Committee Chair Tony Guerrera, are pushing hard to pass a bill that would allow electronic tolls in Connecticut.

“This is the best way that we can achieve our goal in regards to fixing our infrastructure,” Guerrera (D-Newington) said.

The bill would authorize the Department of Transportation to implement electronic tolls, after getting federal approval. Federal mandates would force all revenue to be spent on infrastructure.

“This is our time to do this,” Guerrera said during a press conference with reporters Wednesday. “If we do not do this, everyone in this building has to look at alternative ways to fund our infrastructure.”

Republicans are skeptical at the idea, to say the least.

“Tolls don’t work,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “They know tolls don’t work. It’s a theory. And we know theories don’t always work out in practice.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Republican leadership says the idea hasn’t been studied, which they said should be the first step.

“To pass tolls I think is a mistake,” Fasano said. “If you want to do a study, hey I’m up for a study.”

But options are running short on ways to fund infrastructure. Bonding projects out and raising sales taxes would ultimately fall on the backs of Connecticut residents. Democrats said electronic tolling would lift some of the burden, because up to 40 percent of our highway traffic is out of state residents.

“If it’s not raising money, why does the entire northeast corridor have electronic tolling?” Guerrera asked.

It would probably be several years until we see any tolls in this state. But if we do have them implemented, it would be on the most heavily-traveled roads, including I-95, I-91 and I-84.

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