Sen. Boucher Says Electronic Border Tolls Not Supported In Her District

March 31, 2009

Voted Against Electronic Border Tolls Study Bill In Transportation Committee

Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) said constituents who attended a recent public forum strengthened her belief that Fairfield County residents are extremely unlikely to support any legislative proposals to bring back highway tolls.

“I voted against the analysis bill in the Transportation Committee because I worry about the potentially very harmful effect that installing electronic tolls on our highways would have on border towns,” said Senator Boucher, the leading Republican Senator, or ranking member, on the Transportation Committee.

Senator Boucher said that members of area political town committees, the Chamber of Commerce, business owners and area residents attended the recent forum at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury to express their opposition to electronic border tolls. Unlike the testimony before the committee in Hartford, there was not one person who spoke in favor of the proposal.

“Tractor trailers already take alternative routes through these towns. How much worse will traffic become on local roads if people start using them to avoid paying tolls? Is that really fair to residents of these communities, or the local businesses that customers will avoid if they have to fight horrendous traffic or pay added travel costs to patronize them? I understand that the state has to consider all possible revenue sources, especially now. However, this is a complex issue and we have to carefully consider all of the consequences – intended and unintended – before we make any final decisions,” said Senator Boucher.

Senator Boucher said those who attended the forum asked a number of questions, including whether the General Assembly would reduce the state gas tax if tolls are installed, and if it would be feasible for the state to take advantage of new technology that photographs license plates of passing cars and bills the drivers. Some suggested increasing the state gas tax instead of installing tolls. The concept of Vehicle Miles Driven, which would assess a driver on the miles they drive versus the amount of gasoline they purchase, was also discussed. This may become an issue as new cars become more efficient. Many cars on the market today are getting 40-50 miles per gallon and electric cars may also be on the horizon. This means that gas revenues the state receives could be cut nearly in half.

Senator Boucher voted as a member of the Transportation Committee against Senate Bill 445, An Act Requiring An Analysis Of Issues Related To Electronic Tolls In Connecticut. The proposed legislation, approved by the committee and now subject to further legislative action, would require the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct an analysis concerning electronic border tolls and its effects on surrounding municipalities, privacy issues, federal constraints and tax credits for residents and businesses. Although she supports a thorough analysis of this concept, she could not support language in the final section of the bill that calls for the analysis to include a plan to remove obstacles to re-installing tolls and a timetable for their implementation. DOT would report its findings to the General Assembly no later than June 30, 2010.