From Ken Dixon, CT Post:
The clock will run out on the General Assembly in a couple weeks without a deal on highway tolls, sending the issue into legislative overtime.
House majority leaders on Tuesday said they have enough support for a plan with 50 toll gantries and discounts for state residents, but admitted there doesn’t seem to be a unified agreement with Senate Democrats and Gov. Ned Lamont. Lamont released a working draft of the legislation on Tuesday afternoon, following discussions with legislative leaders.
So after the current session ends June 5, the General Assembly will slip into special session to hammer out toll-related legislation.
“The Senate Democratic caucus remains committed to developing a responsible, long-term plan to invest in Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure and broad-based economic development,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney said Tuesday afternoon. “I am hopeful that a special session will allow for us to find a bipartisan solution to solving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure problems and thereby promote economic development.”
Full story here.
Tolls should be implemented A.S.A.P. without any further discussion. Our Bridgeport legislators should back the tolls simply because no one has offered any viable alternatives and we are long past where we can sit on our hands and wait. Please read the piece that I wrote and was published more than two years ago. for the CT Post more than two years ago. I have forty trucks domiciled in Bridgeport that ply the CT highways, and I for one, embrace tolling to reduce congestion and provide revenue fairly to maintain and improve our transportation system which is decades behind the times.
The case for electronic tolls and consumption pricing in Connecticut
I’ve lived in Connecticut all my life and have watched our highway/rail infrastructure deteriorate and our traffic situation slow to a crawl. What once was billed as the “traffic hour” has become a day long frustration. One should be able to get on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport and travel to the New York line in thirty five minutes travelling fifty five miles per hour. The reality is that you’re lucky if you move at twenty miles per hour during many hours in the day. I was around for the 1983 Mianus River bridge collapse where several people died and the northbound side of Interstate 95 was closed for nearly six months. The traffic problems on Connecticut highways have been in a crisis mode for more than thirty years and it shouldn’t take a major failure of our rusting outdated infrastructure to cause our citizens to push for reforms and our politicians to enact them. Our transportation system (railroad and highways) needs monumental repairs and upgrades. We currently fund our highways (or lack thereof) through Federal subsidies and more locally with state taxes on every gallon of motor vehicle fuel. Up until 1983 Connecticut collected tolls on both Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway. The toll booths were deemed a major safety hazard and a cause of traffic jams prior to their demise after a deadly tractor trailer crash that killed six people. The Connecticut fuel tax is an unfair and broken revenue system that no longer provides for a shared burden on the users of CT roadways. Many vehicles both in and out of state travelling our roadways avoid fueling in Connecticut due to the high fuel taxes. The future is here and automobiles are changing dramatically. Electric, hydrogen and hybrid powered vehicles are reducing the need for combustible fuels. These alternatively powered vehicles along with higher mandated fuel economy standards have lead to declining tax revenues. A change in how we fund our transportation system is absolutely necessary and long overdue.
Our politicians have been advertising that “Connecticut is revolutionary”, however we haven’t lived up to that motto. We in fact need a revolutionary approach to address our decaying transportation infrastructure. We need an “Apollo” like program to modernize and move the economic needle in this state. This will take a serious commitment that will cost in the billions of dollars. This effort will put thousands of people to work in good paying jobs and will ensure the future economic growth of Connecticut. Electronic tolling that is geared for consumption pricing is the future of transportation. Imagine getting on I95 at 7:30 in the morning and leaving Bridgeport to drive thirty miles to Greenwich and knowing that you will be there in thirty minutes. We can achieve this Nirvana with an electronic toll/consumption pricing strategy. Yes, you will need to pay more if you want to drive during peak congestion hours (traditionally known as the rush hour). You will have choices to make. Do you carpool (does anyone remember this concept) to cut down on the cost per person, do you take the train or a bus or might you wait until 9:30 am when the price is much lower? You’ll go and check your phone to see what the cost is at any moment to get on the highway, but you will become confident that you can make your destination by allotting time to travel at the posted speed limit.
No one trusts the politicians in this state or the country for good reason. Why should we think that our elected politicians won’t look at electronic tolls as an unopened cookie jar made for their insatiable snacking habits? They will be creatures of habit if we don’t lock the box. Electronic tolls should only be a revenue source for our transportation network and no other purposes. Let’s lock the box.
We all benefit when our transportation system runs smoothly, efficiently, timely and at a low cost. Time is money and we lose millions of dollars of productive time when we sit in the rush hour traffic jams that have become 24/7 on our major roadways in Connecticut. Connecticut state taxes on motor fuels should be reduced to bring them in line with our bordering states. Sales of motor fuels would increase in Connecticut as people would no longer have reason to purchase their fuel out state due to lower costs. Modern electronic tolls are cost efficient, they don’t slow you down, and are the fairest way to provide revenue for the upkeep and modernization of our roadways. Our current transportation system is in shambles and is a stranglehold on our economic growth. Let’s not be blinded by our anger with our former or current politicians. Let’s move on and make Connecticut truly revolutionary with a transportation system that sets the stage for an economic renaissance.
Connecticut doesn’t have any sort of statewide, economic-development plan. Without such a real, detailed plan, we can only assume that any transportation “improvements” will serve only to maintain the present course of economic development, which has proven destructive to the state as a whole…
Presently, tolls will only encourage the destructive, congestion-creating, skewed development that has led to Connecticut’s last-in-the nation job growth, along with tax-base flight… I am, of course, referring to the Stamford bottleneck that represents Gold Coast prosperity in the context of the economic strangulation of the rest of the state. Tolls — at this juncture — will only provide for infrastructure “improvements” that harm most of the state, with respect to tax-base growth and employment, while maintaining the transportation bottle-neck/choke-hold on the state, as a whole…
Until there is a comprehensive, detailed economic development plan for Connecticut as a whole, any transportation “planning” and “improvements” will only result in maintaining the destructive economic status quo that continues to degrade the Connecticut economy and quality of life even as it compromises our future… (Just look at how Ned jumped on the recent “opportunity” to bring the Amazon HQ2 to Connecticut; where does he propose to locate such a mammoth, 50,000-eomloyee operation? To STAMFORD, of course, where it will exacerbate the strangulation-effect on the economy of the rest of the state…)
So, for the maintenance of the safety of our transportation infrastructure, we should bond until such time as we a have comprehensive, long-term, transportation-infrastructure plan married to the economic development/future of the whole state — an ameliorating economic-development plan, in that regard… Until then; no money (no tolls!) for the continued rigging of the economic-development deck/destructive regional skewing of development…
Especially the (non-Stamford) urban areas of the state need to resist the pressure to pursue tolls and the present transportation-infrastructure non-plan that the Connecticut, Gold Coast oligarchy (and their bought-off, and/or confused supporters), are trying to foist upon us… Only limited, transportation bonding — to maintain safety — should be allowed until we have a plan in place that can prevent further economic harm from being inflicted upon the state from the availability of funding for contra-indicated transportation “improvements” that will only to serve to promote economic development for favored regions, with destructive consequences for most of the state/the state-as-a-whole…
And: Were is the planned “special session” for a Bridgeport casino?!
Connecticut’s special mission will override any special session.
Connecticut has no profits, only costs.
Consequently, revenue increases-even those costing millions to borrow and install-are a better bet than any casino.
Predicting the future is a dicey game-but that’s never stopped me from trying.
Did MGM evaporate?!
not sure Jim, at least the planned Train “Stop” in the East Side is still part of the conversation (tongue in cheek)