One of Connecticut’s newly elected Governor’s campaign promises was to revitalize the state’s infrastructure. He proposed to do so by implementing truck-only tolls. Now it looks as though cars may be tolled as well – but they’ll likely have all sorts of discounts that keep truckers and out-of-state drivers paying the lion’s share.
In an op-ed published in the Connecticut Post last week, Gov. Ned Lamont wrote that “we need to not only maintain our aging transportation infrastructure, but it’s high time that we upgrade it, too.” According to Lamont, traffic – especially on I-95, I-91, I-84, and the Merritt Parkway – is holding back economic progress in the state.
To raise the billions of dollars needed for repairs and upgrades, Lamont initially proposed following Rhode Island’s lead by implementing truck-only tolls. But given the legal challenges facing Rhode Island’s tolling system, Lamont is reconsidering.
“While we are awaiting a ruling from the courts regarding truck-only tolling, our attorneys are pretty certain that if permitted, the tolling could only be done on specific bridges and the generated revenue would be reserved for those bridges, not for congestion pricing,” Lamont wrote. “Assuming our attorneys are correct, the truck-only option provides too little revenue, too slowly and too piecemeal to make a meaningful difference.”
In an address to the state legislature on Wednesday, Lamont expanded his toll proposal to include cars as well. Under the new plan, $213 million would be spent to construct 53 toll gantries by 2022 at the earliest.
All vehicles would have to pay tolls, but significant discounts would be available to commuters, frequent travelers, and in-state drivers in general. Aside from a discount off the top, in-state drivers may be offered an increase in the earned-income tax credit and/or a reduction in fuel taxes to offset the impact of having to pay tolls.
In his op-ed, Lamont estimated that “out-of-state drivers would provide nearly 50 percent of our tolling revenue.” He doubled-down on that claim during his budget address, saying that “it’s time for those out-of-state drivers to foot the bill for fixing our roads and bridges.”
That could have the effect of letting CT car drivers pay next to nothing for the tolls once all is said and done, leaving truckers and out-of-state drivers holding the bill.
No details were given on how much tolls would cost, but Lamont claims that the proposal would raise $800 million per year.
“I know this idea of tolling just sounds like one more damn tax I’m going to have to pay,” said Lamont during his address. “I am not going to fix this state unless I fix our transportation system.”