Debate continues on bringing tolls to CT [WFSB 3]

February 26, 2015

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WFSB 3 Connecticut
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – While many don’t want them, some said tolls are the only way to pay for repairs to Connecticut roads and bridges.

Lawmakers are considering bringing back tolls to the state, but the plan is controversial.

Opponents said it will just be another tax and are doubting that they will be big revenue generators.

Connecticut is one of the few states in the northeast that doesn’t have tolls, but some said they are needed and that the state can’t afford not having them.

According to State Senator Tony Guerrera, “75 percent of the people who use our infrastructure – especially I-95 and I-84 – are out-of-staters (and use them) as a cut through and you and I are paying for this and in my opinion that’s not fair.”

The state’s roads and bridges are aging, and Guerrera, chairman of the state’s Transportation Committee, said the state is running out of money.

He said gas tax revenues are down because of lower gas prices and more fuel efficient cars.

Republican State Sen. Toni Boucher said she is dead set against tolls and said the committee has received about 500 emails from those who feel the same way.

While she said the state needs money, she feels it should be borrowed.

“It’s going to cost $1 billion or $2 (billion) to put them in and then $75 million per year – how many years do you think that would take to pay for itself,” Boucher said, adding that Connecticut residents would be the ones burdened.

She said she is also skeptical about whether Connecticut would be able to collect money from out-of-state drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass.

Some also said that the state would lose federal money if tolls were brought back to the state.

Tolls, if approved, would be located at border towns.

Another issue raised is whether or not residents in those bordering towns would get either discounted tolls or tax breaks.

Connecticut got rid of tolls in the late-80s after seven people were killed when a truck slammed into several cars in Stratford.

“You are still going to have accidents. As soon as you put an implement in the road – 32 years later – are drivers more or less distracted? I know the answer to that question,” said Cindy Penkoff, who lost two cousins in that crash.