Connecticut Legislature Considers Return Of Highway Tolls

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There haven't been tolls in Connecticut for more than 25 years, but discussions have started about reintroducing them to the state's highways. Photo Credit: File Photo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Tolls may return to Connecticut's highways – including Interstates 95 and 84 in Fairfield County near the New York border – after several bills were discussed Monday at the Joint Committee on Transportation in Hartford.

Four proposed bills would establish tolls at the state's borders, increase state revenue and possibly reduce state taxes, state legislators say.

Tolls were removed from state highways in 1985 after six people, including several children, died in a toll-booth crash in 1983 in Stratford. The debate to replace them has continued ever since.

A family member of one of the children killed in that crash gave emotional testimony Monday morning at the public hearing on why toll booths should not be put back on the highways, said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.

Reintroducing toll booths to the state would bring several problems, said Boucher, who also represents New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston and Westport. There are no concrete figures on how much the state would earn from the toll booths.

“That’s the big question mark,” she said. Some predict  $100 million to $400 million in revenue could be raised, she said.

Another concern raised by those in the public hearing was where the money would go. The General Assembly has a history of using the Transportation General Fund as a way to balance the budget, Boucher said. Any money earned from a toll would need to stay in transportation, she said.

The addition of the tolls could also decrease the gas tax, which Boucher says is the highest in the country.

The Daily Voice reached out to ask readers how they felt about adding tolls to the state highways.

“We didn't have a state income tax when we used to have the tolls. I knew the minute we lost that revenue they'd have to make it up elsewhere. I'd love to see the tolls come back if it meant we could go back to no state income tax,” Cathy Bandoian posted on The Ridgefield Daily Voice Facebook page.

On The Norwalk Daily Voice, several readers said they didn’t care about the cost, but even more said they were concerned about the extra traffic toll booths would cause.

“Don't care about the extra cost, but I do care about the extra TRAFFIC that tolls would cause!!!!” Brinley Ford Ehlers posted.

“Don't care about the extra cost, either. As long as the money stays ON THE ROAD!!! Not into any other General Fund that's discretionary. Nowhere else,” Louis Imperato posted.

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Comments (15)

DavidA:

Maybe Nick Cobb wants the government tracking his every move but a lot of folks don't. His idea is also flawed in that only CT drivers would pay the charge and out of states would travel on CT highways for free, how does that make sense? One thing he got right is pensions and healthcare are in large measure responsible for the situation the state is in. Unfortunately, with Obamacare getting ready to kick in and with no real effort to reduce the size of state government neither is going to get fixed anytime soon. CT has the highest per capita debt ratio in the entire nation. We are in worse fiscal shape than California on a per person basis. No wonder companies don't won't to stay or move here and families, if they can sell their homes, are leaving.

nick.cobb.33:

I'm sure if we examine why the State of CT needs more $$$ and falls short, we'd probably find that a big chunk of the state budget goes toward pensions and healthcare. SOLVE THIS! Also, require every CT car to be equipped with a device to send info to a central billing locale that tells how many miles that car drives on state hwys. Send a bill out every 6 months. Maybe the average commuter will pay $100 every 6 months. We have the technology!

john.real.965:

Bridgeport has the highest taxes of ALL major cities in the US. Higher than NYC, Philly, Chicago, Detroit, LA.

Taxes for family earning $25,000: $3,708 (5th highest)
Taxes for family earning $150,000: $23,501 (the highest)
Unemployment rate: 11.7% (3rd highest)

Don't blame the politicians. Blame the people who put the politicians in power.

john.real.965:

"The General Assembly has a history of using the Transportation General Fund as a way to balance the budget."

Simple solution: Pass a bill to outlaw such practices. Punishment: Cut off the hand of politician who gets caught doing it.

john.real.965:

No-income-tax is trending now. More and more states are considering it, It's a free market economy, and CT should compete with other states to attract and keep businesses and people. Liberalism and socialism will not last long when there's competition.

firebird400:

Unless there is a plan to fix the current traffic mess on the turnpikes, tolls are only going to add to the problem. The backup's would really be awful. Look at 95 and 84 now. They are packed just due to traffic flow. perhaps we can get some enviromental groups on the case, they can test for air quality from a stopped car, vs one going at highway speeds. I am also sure if they bring back tolls, a lot of towns will see increased traffic from cars getting around the tolls. Tolls are dangerous. While the stratford incident was terrible, there were also some other bad accidents at toll booths, including the one at the start of 95 at the NY Border, and on the Merritt, check the records. The financial benefit to the state is pie in the sky. Does anyone really believe it would offset our current taxes? We have heard that one before.

Diane C2:

Firebird: I don't believe any legislation calls for tollbooths - simply toll stations, that are electronic. No toll takers, no booths, no slowing down.

Latino:

If there is a toll on Exit 14 South on I95 that means the back up will be up to Westport. Rt.1 and Merrit will become the major roads for those who do not want to pay a toll. So if you live in any of these area by Rt1 and Merrit traffic will rise by 100% if a toll happens.

You want tolls then have 1 toll and that is coming into the state and $5.00 fee for all cars and for $5.00 first axel and $2.00 extra per axel. All this at the welcome to Ct entrance.

RG of Mayo:

They'll get their tolls. And, NO the money will not stay in the transportation budget....maybe for a year or two but then they'll pass some "special' "temporary" budget slight of hand and that will be the end of that. Just like the lottery doesn't really fund education anymore.

When they build the tolls let's INSIST that they put one in the virtually never used Greenwich truck "inspection" site.

BOB22JIM:

If the tolls raised funds to repair the roads, stopped state tax it is a great idea. Fairfield County has a lot of commuters from outside that should be paying a small cost to work here. It will also, open a lot of new jobs in the transportation field. To add; the crash from 1985; I've noticed a car crash to a gas station and they rebuilt afterwords.

randygvm:

Not a good Idea! I remember that crash that hap-end in Stratford On i95 it caused a lot of heartache and it's not safe. The waste of fuel in the stopping and starting as well as the break dust is environmentally unsound.

nick.cobb.33:

This is ridiculous! The tolls were eliminated because they were dangerous and killed many drivers. The toll booth in Stratford had a horrific accident where a truck couldn't slow down and took out several families. Now, the state will want everyone to have pre-paid electronic passes on every car. Who is getting rich here? What happened to Wiecker saying we would just have a STATE TAX for one year and then phase it out? Why can't we go back to no State Tax? We certainly don't need more dangers on our roads and tolls will certainly do this. Where do we get more State money? Look to the rich corporations and individuals (Greenwich).

just_looking:

the facts do not matter. They will put in tolls as they are junkies and need a new revenue stream.
They removed tolls due to safety, but if it comes to the publics money or the publics safety I know which one will be chosen, they rest is just for show.

DavidA:

Just another way for politicians to spend more money. If anyone believes that reinstalling tolls will not simply result in ever more spending out of Hartford then I have a bridge to sell you.

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