Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) – Debate and an up or down vote on moving forward with electronic highway tolls in Connecticut is now expected on Wednesday in the Connecticut House of Representatives.
The latest plan would charge out of state drivers 50% more than Connecticut commuters and is estimated to bring more than a billion dollars a year to the state’s Special Transportation Fund for road, bridge and public transportation infrastructure.
This latest toll plan would raise so much money, there’s now talk about eliminating the ‘Car Tax’ and lowering the ‘Gas Tax’ as sweeteners to get it passed.
The electronic tolling plan that’s emerging would give a 50% discount to Connecticut drivers that are also regular commuters.
According to an outline of the plan, it’s designed to “minimize the costs to Connecticut drivers while capturing” what’s described as “a fair share of revenue from out of state drivers that currently use Connecticut roads at little or no cost.”
For Connecticut commuters going to New York City from New Haven, a distance of about 50 miles, the toll would be $1.72 off peak and $2.16 during commuter hours one way. Out of staters would pay about
twice as much.
A commuter going from Southington to Hartford, a distance of about 22 miles, the toll would be 77 cents off peak, 97 cents during peak travel times.
The Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) said Monday that even with these deeply
discounted prices, the plan would raise more than enough money to pay for transportation improvements.
He added, “According to the numbers we ran based upon the numbers off that document, it would be about $1.3 billion. “
He says the cost to construct and operate the electronic tolling gantries like the ones on the Mass Pike would be about $300,000, meaning the state would gain a billion a year in toll revenue.
After viewing the outline of the plan, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) the House Minority Leader said, “The problem here is they are revenue grabbing as usual because they can’t control their budget and now they’re scared because the facts were coming out about 70% of the state residents paying tolls.”
This proposal has a two step process; first year, the D.O.T. formulates the plan, the second year the legislature must approve it. If the tolls generate as much as is predicted, then the tax department would be required to cut the ‘Gas Tax’ a penny a year for five years