Sen. Boucher Statement Regarding Tolls

March 21, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following statement today re: transportation committee decides to study border tolls, HB 6051 AN ACT CONCERNING THE STUDY OF ELECTRONIC TOLLS, HIGHWAY CONGESTION, SPECIAL TRANSPORTATION FUND EXPENDITURES AND REDUCTIONS TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE FUELS TAX and allows for tolls on Rte 11, HB 6052 AN ACT CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TOLLS FOR THE EXTENSION OF ROUTE 11.
“It will take a great deal of more evidence to convince me that reintroducing tolls on Connecticut’s highways, particularly border tolls, is the right public policy to meet Connecticut’s transportation funding needs. There are very real concerns that revenues derived from tolls would not be used for transportation infrastructure given that current Department of Transportation (DOT) special transportation funds are routinely siphoned off to fund other departments of government or to close operating budget deficits.”

“Additionally, there is the issue of traffic diversion, where trucks and cars tend to cut through local neighborhoods to avoid tolls. Furthermore, border tolls would have a disproportionate impact on those living in Connecticut towns near New York, Massachusetts or Rhode Island as Connecticut residents routinely cross the border to get to work.”

“Connecticut already has the highest gas tax in the nation, 45.1 cents per gallon and diesel is 52. 3 cents on top of federal taxes, making Connecticut’s tax the highest in the country. If the price of tolls were added on top of this high cost, we would further exacerbate Connecticut’s reputation as the most expensive state in which to do business or retire.”

“While these bills were being voted on in committee, the Connecticut Department of Transportation was conducting an in depth study of various means of generating revenues, including tolls, to pay for our transportation needs. There is a valid concern that more fuel efficient automobiles may reduce revenues from the gas tax in the future.”

“Many on the committee including myself believe that the initiative to reintroduce tolls is premature and should wait for the department’s report to be completed and submitted to the legislature, the governor and the Transportation Committee.”

“A bill to use tolls to pay for the completion of Route 11 in eastern Connecticut was also objectionable to many on the Transportation Committee. This bill will become a lightning rod for amendments to add tolls to other roads that a few would like to build, such as the Super 7 highway through the towns of Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield and Danbury.”

“Past attempts to reinstate tolls have taken a torturous route through the legislature due to strong opposition by many residents. This year looks to be no different. However a variety of interesting ideas continue to inspire debate. There is new technology and electronic tolling mechanisms that are being used in different states and different countries. Some photograph a license plate and send a bill to violators without an E-Z pass. Studies have shown however, that there is a 20-30% non-compliance of those violators who fail to pay these penalties. Experts tell us until there is national interoperability, i.e. transponders that can be used to go through all tolls anywhere in the country. But it will be hard to collect from scofflaws. Federal Transportation officials have set a June 2016 date to achieve this objective.”

“Although I did not vote in favor of either the study bill or the Rte 11 toll bill. I am encouraged that the Transportation Committee has made the subject of border tolls a study and not state law. The debate regarding tolls is not over. However, once the DOT completes its study, it will surely return.”