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State Transportation Committee Votes To Wait For Study On Tolls

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Tolls won’t be making a comeback on Connecticut highways just yet. The state legislature’s Transportation Committee last week decided the concept of reinstating tolls along the state’s borders needs to be thoroughly studied first.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a member of the Transportation Committee, said she is pleased the committee made the decision it did.

“Many on the committee, including myself, believe that the initiative to reintroduce tolls is premature and should wait for the [state Department of Transportation’s] report to be completed,” Boucher said in a statement Thursday.

Tolls were removed from the state's highways in 1985 after a 1983 tollbooth crash that killed six people. The DOT wants to reinstate tolls as a way to generate more revenue. Boucher, however, said she is not convinced reinstating tolls is the best way to meet the state’s transportation funding needs.

Boucher said one of her primary concerns is that toll revenues would not be used for transportation purposes “given that current Department of Transportation special transportation funds are routinely siphoned off to fund other departments of government or to close operating budget deficits.”

Additionally, these border tolls would have a “disproportionate impact” on residents living in towns near New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as many of these residents cross the border to get to work, Boucher said.

“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,” Boucher said. “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.”

She is also concerned that tolls would create more traffic. Specifically, Boucher thinks tolls would create congestion on local roads, as drivers seek out these routes to avoid tolls. 

Like Boucher, state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, believes border tolls will heavily impact commuters and traffic. Frantz is also a member of the Transportation Committee.

"When and if this proposal is reintroduced, I will continue to oppose this measure that would unfairly increase the burden on commuters and families across our state and possibly have a very negative effect on congestion in our community,” Frantz said in a statement.

Although drivers don’t have to worry about tolls this year, Boucher said the debate is not over. Once the DOT completes its study, she said the toll proposal will “surely return.”

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