Lamont Makes Toll Pitch In Advance Of Budget Proposal

As he prepares to submit his first budget to the General Assembly, Governor Ned Lamont rolled out this editorial in pursuit of a new revenue source: electronic tolls.

I recently announced a reinvigorated economic development team, whose mission it is to promote and champion Connecticut to businesses who wish to locate or grow here. On paper, we have it all–access to world-class talent; equidistant between Boston and New York without the exceptionally high cost of living; vibrant cultural and educational institutions. But our reputation in one area in particular precedes us, and not in a good way. Our economic development team must be prepared to answer the question that everyone who knows anything about Connecticut will ask: “What about the congestion on your highways?”

Beyond an inconvenience, the crushing congestion we experience on I-95, I-91, I-84 and the Merritt Parkway, in particular, is a real challenge we must address and overcome if we are to maximize our economic development potential. Our proximity in mileage to New York City means nothing if it takes 90 minutes to get there from Stamford on the road, and over an hour by train. We need to not only maintain our aging transportation infrastructure, but it’s high time that we upgrade it, too.

The gasoline tax simply does not provide the reliable revenue we need, period. Gasoline tax revenues have been flat for 10 years and are expected to begin declining as cars become more efficient, and as the sales of electric vehicles increase. As such, I do not support raising the gas tax, as it is already high compared to our peers. Some people have espoused “priority bonding,” where we further cut back on economic development and other bonding in favor of transportation. As I recently announced, Connecticut is in dire need of a “debt diet” and as such, I cannot support this type of borrowing to pay for ongoing and continuous repairs and upgrades–it is not sustainable or wise. The Legislature previously established a bond cap and I know they appreciate how important keeping to our debt discipline is.

I understand how controversial electronic tolling is. As I learned about the issue, I indicated my support for tolling only tractor trailer trucks, as they do in Rhode Island. This would provide at least some revenue to maintain our system, though not enough to upgrade it. 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. Assuming our attorneys are correct, the truck-only option provides too little revenue, too slowly and too piecemeal to make a meaningful difference.

I know there are proposals in the Legislature that include tolling for cars and trucks. I would only consider this option if we maximized the discount for Connecticut EZ-Pass users and/or offered a “frequent driver” discount for those who are required to travel our major roadways on a frequent basis. We have been subsidizing our neighboring states’ road repairs by paying their tolls, and it’s estimated that out-of-state drivers would provide nearly 50 percent of our tolling revenue, as well. As needed, we could also consider an increase in the earned income tax credit or reduction in gas tax to mitigate the costs of tolling on the everyday user.

We have modeled out both options in the budget I will submit to the Legislature on Wednesday. As my co-equal branch of government, I am open to a real discussion with them, as well as Connecticut’s residents, about the state of our transportation system and what will be needed going forward–not only to make repairs, but to truly put Connecticut in a position of strength when it comes to infrastructure upgrades and bold economic visioning. However, there is no doubt in my mind that our transportation fund will require additional strategic and recurring revenues in the very near future. In my opinion, there is no way around that hard fact.

Forward-thinking economic development demands that, among other transportation needs, we speed up our rail service from Hartford to New Haven, New Haven to Stamford and Stamford to New York City, with more frequent service to Waterbury and New London. These transportation upgrades are the building blocks of our economic future and we must formulate a real, sustainable plan to start now.



  1. I can see commercial vehicles, part of doing business, they make money. To charge people to go to work and shop, vision entertainment destination like the “casino” I don’t know. You are not making CT an appealing place to visit. I’m not sure if the gas revenue has stayed flat, if true. But they (gas) cars should be exempted from paying the tolls. it not like they are not paying taxes for road repairs. As more electric cars come on the road it will balance out. S.P Look at project cost. I Mean a 300 million dollar train station and parking lot. The same amount as the tribe propose casino. JS people. 🙂

  2. Nothing violates the laws of interstate commerce more than trucker-only tolls.
    Imagine the embarrassment if Rhode Island has to dismantle its tolls.
    Imagine the disruption if organized truckers target Connecticut for its upcoming tolls.
    Connecticut desperately needs to import money. Sports betting-not tolls-is the best way to do that.

  3. Full disclosure:
    Local Eyes = Paul Griffith
    I’m not the man behind the curtain
    I’m the guy in front of his blog-given handle.
    If you don’t believe me, here’s my digital playground:
    I hope the Governor is busy finding a way to get a “partial Amazon” in Connecticut.
    The company might be anxious to do an “incentive-free” build out to show their speed, determination and fiscal firepower.

  4. Amazon already went from one HQ2 to two HQ2s, right?
    Wouldn’t it be great if Gov Lamont used Sikorsky Memorial Airport to lure Amazon here?
    Once you downsize their ambitions, Connecticut looks pretty good!

  5. Local Eyes; you are correct about the indications for a major Amazon presence in Connecticut, and, in particular for Bridgeport/Greater Bridgeport… Bridgeport has land, labor, housing, great access to nearby, world-class knowledge-bases/IT expertise, and incredible transportation potential — per development of Sikorsky Airport’s heliport and drone-port potential, which could be efficiently connected to a (dredged) deep-water port with freight-rail spur via multi-modal links/rail spurs… NYC/Queens is just too crowded/congested — as is Stamford (per its reliance on a commuting workforce…) for a large Amazon operation .

    When one views development policy in Connecticut in the context of the bypassing of Bridgeport for major, commercial/industrial development, it is impossible to not see the contra-productive deck-rigging of development policy by the Stamford-Greenwich oligarchy — that has left the State of Connecticut near-death, economically, with “leeches” being prescribed as a remedy by yet another administration in Hartford…

  6. If all vehicles are tolled, truckers will tolerate and comply. However, if you single them out, Connecticut will suffer their angst and subject the state to publicly-recognized Constitutional rebuke (i.e. bad press).
    Connecticut has a spending problem.and the power to tax is the power to destroy.
    Now hear this: I like Connecticut.

  7. It’s a fast world we live in.
    It was while reading the highly-regarded and thought-provoking blog Only in Bridgeport that Governor Lamont reversed his position on tolls and now supports tolls on all vehicles.


Leave a Reply