Once again Connecticut legislators are scouring every crevice for new sources to cover our over-budgeted projects. Multiple House Democrats have yet again proposed the implementation of tolls. State rep. Tony Guerrera , House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, states “I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive.”
Currently, there is fear the Special Transportation Fund will run out. Democrats believe the addition of new revenue sources, including tolls, may be the answer needed; however, Republicans are pushing back on this idea. State Sen. Len Fasano believes a quick jump to tolls may put federal funding at risk, also stating “…it’s reckless to rush to approve tolls before even understanding the economics of how they would work.”
The debate on whether to install tolls in Connecticut isn’t so one sided. A recent AAA poll shows a 47 percent favorability towards tolls. One major argument in favor seems to stem from its usage from neighboring states. As it stands, the idea of looking toward neighboring states such as Massachusetts as an example may not be ideal. The cost to build electronic tolls in Massachusetts totaled around $130 million. In addition to the large cost of implementation, the first few months was burdened with problems. Between November 2016 and February 2017 MassDOT had over 6,200 alerts over issues with cameras, sensors, and other tolling equipment.
The necessity of repairing and maintaining our infrastructure is obvious. In Connecticut’s current economic turmoil however, finding the funds to do so will be a struggle that need close scrutiny. The addition of tolls will be costly with no certainty of how long this revenue stream will take effect. The real question that needs to be asked is: do we need a new and immediate revenue stream or a stricter review on spending and the priorities given to each state project?
Alex Williams lives in Woodbury.