CT State Representative Patricia Dillon
She says she's fighting for 'infrastructure repair.' That's why Pat Dillon, a New Haven state representative, has introduced a bill for the upcoming General Assembly session to bring back tolls on state highways. That way Connecticut could join states like Massachusetts and New York and New Jersey in collecting money from interstate drivers.
She said she’d like to see the money collected go toward fixing roads as well as boosting mass transit, “given what’s going on with gridlock on our highways."
“We’re a toll-free zone. We’re paying tolls in Massachusetts, and we’re paying tolls in New York. That’s a lot of money. We need it for road upkeep. It’s very important for infrastructure,” Dillon said in an interview.
Her bill does not specify where the toll booths would be placed. But the New Haven Independent reports that she envisioned them cropping up at state borders on I-95, I-91, and the Wilbur Cross and Merritt Parkways.
How much revenue would these potential new tolls generate?
And how much would be paid by Connecticut residents versus out-of-staters? That remains undetermined.
According to a website called TollRoadsNews.com, it estimated in 2011 that placing toll plazas at eight key border points would bring the state up to $237 million in revenues with operating costs running at 5 to 10 percent. A 2009 Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board report estimated billions of dollars can come in. “Highway border tolls would raise significant revenue, but would do little to improve congestion in the corridor unless the revenues were invested in projects that provided such benefits,” the report warned.
The details of a toll plan; how many tolls, where to use them, how much to charge, whether to use congestion pricing, etc., would obviously determine the amount of revenue raised. According to the findings of a 2009 state Office of Legislative Research report; it showed the state collected $72.3 million in the final full year of toll collection three decades ago.
The tolls are needed to produce money for infrastructure. No doubt about that. But let's be clear; it's another tax that has the potential to hit many Connecticut residents and commuters where they live. And, it could discourage visitors to the major stores, malls, theaters and restaurants etc. nearest the CT border tolling areas if out-of-staters must pay a toll on top of the gas it takes to get there.