The 22News I-Team investigated a toll proposal that could cost you a lot of money in the future if you cross into Connecticut. 22News I-TEAM reporter Mike Masciadrelli questioned Connecticut lawmakers about their plan to bring tolls back.
This proposal would install toll gantries on four major Connecticut highways, including I-91. Western Massachusetts drivers are worried about the cost, so the I-Team crossed state lines looking for answers.
In a few short years, you could be "paying by the mile" to drive on Connecticut highways. The Connecticut Transportation Committee wants to install 50 electonic toll gantries on Interstates-91, 95, 84, and Route 15.
The 22News I-Team questioned Connecticut lawmakers about a proposal to charge commuters from western Massachusetts. A lot of people want to know: why now implement a toll system in Connecticut after all these years?
Connecticut State Representative Roland Lemar Chairs the House Transportation Committee. "Its going to cost some money to build the type of infrastracture that we need and this is the most responsible way we can do it," explains Lemar. "For the last 30 years, there haven't been any tolls on our roads. We think we missed an opportunity to invest in transportation that makes places thrive and grow and we need revenue if we will maintain the status quo."
Under the proposal, there would be toll gantries every 6 miles along I-91 and the three other highways.
Those tolls would be expensive for out of state-drivers, and would even rise during rush hour. In fact, 40 percent of the anticipated toll revenues will be paid for by out-of-state drivers.
Out of state "EZ Pass" holders would pay 2 cents more per mile than CT residents. It gets much more expensive without an EZ pass; where you'd pay 8 cents a mile, and 10 cents during peak traffic.The plan's already running into resistance in Connecticut.
"Connecticut already struggles with bringing people here to work in our state. We are not known as a high tourist state,so when you add these tolls that's just another reason for people to avoid coming to CT," said Patrick Sasser, founder of NO TOLLS CONNECTICUT.
Representative Lemar is aware of the personal financial impact to drivers. "There are long distance commuters who will get hurt under this plan but I think there are ways to cap the amount an individual will pay. We are concerned about the same thing. We don't want to punish people, we just want folks paying a portion of their fair share."
A portion that's determined by your address.
"An average trip from from border to border from Stamford to Westerly or Enfield to New Haven, it will only cost a few dollars. We don't think people will make important tourist decisions based on just a few dollars that they may have to pay in tolls," said Lemar.
Massachusetts doesn't have a reciprocity agreement with Connecticut, and their drivers already owe Massachusetts millions of dollars in unpaid tolls. Lemar said that would likely change if the proposal goes through.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont supports this proposal. A spokesperson from his office sent the 22News I-Team this statement:
“We all agree that our state’s transportation infrastructure is hampering Connecticut’s economic growth and that a solution requires investment. The Governor’s plan ensures 40% of the bill will be paid by out-of-state drivers, with a maximum discount to Connecticut drivers which is why it is supported by a broad coalition of local, business, labor and legislative leaders.”
The Connecticut House and Senate are expected to vote on the toll bill next month.
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