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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Toll Debate Continues in Hartford

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  April 1, 2019 --

The 2019 Connecticut General Assembly session is moving right along now. The Legislative committees have been meeting and having public hearings on various bills. The committees are now reaching the deadlines by which the actions on their assigned bills must be completed. These bills will then be sent on to the House or Senate for their action.

The most notable bills this session addresses creating the process to allow the addition of an ‘electronic tolling system’ to some Connecticut highways. The Transportation Committee just passed three bills addressing tolls, two House and one Senate bill. The proposed bills would add tolls to I-84, I-91, I-95 and portions of Route 15. These bills will now move on to the House and Senate for consideration.

This discussion of the addition of tolls has been a growing topic for the last few years. Under the Malloy administration, there was a study done with recommendations addressing tolls as to where and how many. This initial study did include other highways in the state such as Routes 384 and 295. Supporters of the tolls say that Connecticut has an aging infrastructure and that the tolls revenues are needed to fund significant repairs to aging roads and bridges. The state also needs to address the viaduct in Hartford. If tolls are approved this year they still need to get federal approval and it will be a few years before they are generating revenue.

One of the bills calls for the creation of a Transportation Committee which would oversee the tolling system. Another bill allows the Department of Transportation to construct, maintain and operate an electronic tolling system leaving the details to them. The bill also addresses reciprocal agreements with the Department of Motor Vehicles and other states with tolls for the collection of tolls.

As for how much you would pay, it has been recommended that residents who have a Connecticut E-Z Pass receive a discount on the tolls. Out of state E Z Pass holders would be charged a higher rate. They also recommend a commuter rate for those who pass through 40 tolls a month. There are exceptions for police, fire, state and other safety vehicles. The funds would all be placed in a Special Transportation Fund and shall not be commingled with other funds and revenues. In other words, the new transportation lock box.

So far support for these bills falls along party lines, but there are groups who are lobbying to reject the tolls. We have to look at state finances and our highway infrastructure and weigh it against the impact that tolls may have on our state residents and communities. The Grange does support improvements on our highways making them safer to travel.



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