Push for tolls moving full throttle

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–A key legislative committee is expected to vote on advancing proposals for electronic tolls within the next nine days and advocates say they believe they have the votes this year in both the House and Senate.

Everyone agrees that state’s transportation infrastructure is falling apart, and those that have been pushing this feel this will be the year tolls get the green light.

The D.O.T. said today that imposing tolls at Connecticut border points would violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, but that multiple electronic tolling gantries throughout Connecticut,
like the ones in our surrounding states, would not jeopardize any future transportation funding.

Related: Transportation Committee to review highway tolls proposals

The D.O.T. also says their research indicates the state would capture nearly as much money from out of state drivers as from Connecticut residents.

D.O.T. Commissioner James Redeker telling lawmakers on the Transportation Committee,  “If Connecticut implemented tolls on our limited access highways, out of state motorists could pay over 40% of the  total toll revenues generated.”  That’s because the state can legally charge out of state drivers more if they don’t have a Connecticut approved transponder on their vehicle.

Republicans say the number is inflated, that their research shows out of state drivers paying just 25%.   Transportation Committee vice-chair Sen.Len Suzio (R-Meriden) telling News 8,  “Most of the tax burden of tolls will be born by Connecticut taxpayers and that’s the only reason why some people support it. They think that there’s going to be a big windfall from out of staters. It isn’t going to happen.”

Committee co-chair Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) adding, “There would be over seventy of them throughout the State of Connecticut, not on the borders but everywhere and it would impact those people unfairly at the lowest
end of the economics.”

Related: Committee recommends tax changes, tolls for Connecticut

The D.O.T. Commissioner told this same committee a year ago that the state’s ‘Special Transportation Fund’ will be in the red by next year and that a hike in the ‘Gas Tax’ alone will not generate enough
cash to sustain and rebuild the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Committee co-chair Rep. Tony Guererra (D-Rocky Hill), a longtime advocate of the tolls saying,   “We need some type of sustainable revenue to come into the S.T.F. and tolls isn’t the cure for everything but it’s a sustainable revenue.”

Republicans insist that revenue is not needed; that road and bridge improvements can be made (at a much slower pace) under the existing bonding and tax structure.

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