Democrats Push Forward With Trucks-Only Tolls Plan
Top Democrats have released their latest draft of a transportation plan, one that continues to push for tolls to generate revenue to invest in transportation infrastructure. The bill is similar to previous proposals from Democrats, planning for tolls on large commercial trucks in 12 different locations on six highways – I-84, I-91, I-95, I-395, I-684 and Route 8. The currently proposed base rate for vehicles with a transponder is £6 with a limit of £13.
Those without a transponder on a tolled bridge can expect to pay 50 percent more than the base rate. While the transportation commissioner would have the power to propose future rate changes, a Transportation Policy Council would be in charge of actually setting and changing rates. The money made off tolls would be deposited into the Special Transportation Fund.
Gov. Ned Lamont estimated that these tolls would bring in around £180 million. “I think we are very confident about what those revenues are going to be coming in about £180 million,” Lamont said. “We know from federal records exactly the tractor-trailer trucks going through, we have a very good estimate about what those numbers are going to end up being.”
The transportation plan is tied to a bonding plan, an agreement Lamont said included £1.7 billion in bonding for the current fiscal year. “I think we needed some discipline in terms of how much we are borrowing going forward, and we reached an agreement on that. We are going to solve that bond package very soon after we get the transportation bill passed,” Lamont said.
Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of CT, said they remain opposed to tolls and argued that the trucks-only model is unconstitutional. “This plan is part of a rush to get the toll gantries up before Rhode Island’s truck-only toll law is ruled unconstitutional. If the gantries are up before a federal court rules against Rhode Island, Connecticut will simply say they have no choice but to flip the switch and toll cars.
The state is certainly not going to take the gantries down. It is unfortunate that the trucking industry is being made the subject of false statements in order to get this done,” Sculley wrote in a statement to NBC Connecticut. The latest bill does include provisions to keep the tolls restricted to large commercial trucks for at least the next several years, based on bond obligations.
Unions, including the Connecticut Building Trades Council, have expressed support for a tolls plan, eager for the construction jobs such a plan might generate. Republicans, who remain opposed to tolls, have proposed an alternative plan that excludes tolls and focuses on borrowing and pulling money from the rainy day fund to finance the transportation investments. A hearing to discuss the contents of the bill is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.
Ned Lamont said he is hoping to call a Special Session to vote on the plan before the regular session begins in February.
LOCATIONS OF PROPOSED TOLLS
- Interstate 84 crossing the Housatonic River in the towns of Newtown and Southbury;
- Interstate 84 and Connecticut Route 8 in the city of Waterbury
- Interstate 84 overpassing Berkshire Road in the town of West Hartford
- Interstate 91 and Connecticut Route 15 at the Charter Oak Bridge and Dutch Point in the cities of Hartford and East Hartford
- Interstate 95 overpassing the Metro-North Railroad in the city of Stamford
- Interstate 95 overpassing Connecticut Route 33 in the town of Westport
- Interstate 95 overpassing the Metro-North Railroad in the city of West Haven
- Interstate 95 overpassing Connecticut Route 161 in the town of East Lyme
- Interstate 95 overpassing the Thames River in the cities of New London and Groton
- Interstate 395 overpassing the Moosup River in the town of Plainfield
- Interstate 684 overpassing the Byram River in the town of Greenwich
- Connecticut Route 8, south of the interchange with Interstate 84 in the city of Waterbury.