Fasano, Boucher: Schumer has made the case for not bringing back tolls

March 31, 2015

Hartford, CT – Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following joint statement today re: New York Senator Charles Schumer calls on Federal and state Transportation officials to withhold funding from Connecticut if they don’t include New York border communities in the return of tolls debate.

Schumer said, “I am calling on the Connecticut Department of Transportation to be a good neighbor and consider New York communities’ concerns. I am also putting the feds on notice that any proposal that fails to incorporate New York communities’ concerns should be rejected.”

Senator Fasano and Senator Boucher say the good Senator from New York has made their case for not bringing back tolls.

“The back up around border communities and safety concerns that date back decades ago to the Stratford toll plaza disaster are the biggest reasons we should not bring back tolls,” said Boucher. “In addition, I agree with Sen. Schumer’s environmental and economic concerns. In our state we also have a huge concern that a toll is just another tax on top of the highest gas tax in the country and we should not go there.”

“It looks like Governor Malloy really doesn’t get along with anybody,” said Fasano. “There should be open communication between our two states on this issue that clearly impacts us all. Yet, there appears to have been no conversation. At least it’s nice to know Gov. Malloy treats his own party the same as he treats Republicans,” he said.

Senator Boucher added: “Connecticut can have a world class transportation infrastructure and pay for it with bonds meant to be paid for big projects over a long period of time. This plan was presented by Republican’s and it does NOT include taxes.

“When Governor Malloy suggests ‘Senator Schumer will be notified as much as New York notifies us’ it concerns me. We should be having an adult conversation about how to fund transportation. It is my hope we will,” said Boucher.

Senator Boucher is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee

Background:

According to a study conducted on behalf of the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, as many as 14,000 of the 140,000 cars and trucks per day that traverse the route could decide to get off of the highway and use local streets in order to avoid paying the toll.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the Connecticut Department of Transportation appears below:

Dear Commissioner Redeker:

I write to urge you to consider the concerns of local New York communities, including Rye and Port Chester, when deciding whether to establish new tolls on I-95 at the New York border. These communities fear that a new toll at the border might divert traffic onto local roads from drivers avoiding the toll; since they will likely be affected by a new toll, the input of these communities should be part of Connecticut’s decision making process.

Approximately 140,000 vehicles travel the I-95 corridor in this area, between the New York state line and Stamford, every day. If even a fraction of those drivers choose to skip the toll by getting off the highway and taking local roads, it could have a huge impact on those local communities. Additional congestion in these communities could negatively affect local businesses, make roads impassable for emergency vehicles, affect air quality, and impact safety.

According to a 2009 report prepared for the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, a toll on I-95 at the New York border would divert about 14,000 vehicles on a daily basis, including approximately 1,400 in the highest peak hour. The report concluded that putting 1,400 vehicles on Route 1, which is the most likely detour route through Port Chester, would have a significant impact on traffic in Port Chester and the surrounding communities. Traffic is already heavy on Route 1 during rush hour, and the additional traffic would cause significant backups, particularly in downtown Port Chester. The report also noted that the additional traffic, including higher numbers of trucks, could create important safety concerns for Port Chester and the surrounding communities.