Tolls are not the solution to Connecticut’s transportation-related financial problems.
Tolls are simply another tax which the residents of Connecticut cannot afford.
First we must address the excessive waste in our transportation system; “Connecticut spends $99,417 per mile of road in administrative costs, according to the Reason Foundation’s annual study on state transportation spending and effectiveness. Connecticut had the highest administrative costs in the country, which were nine times the national average of $10,864. The administrative cost per mile increased by 19 percent since the Foundation’s previous study in 2016.
According to the report, “Administrative disbursements typically include general and main-office expenditures in support of state-administered highways. They do not include project-related costs but occasionally include ‘parked’ funds, which are funds from bond sales or asset sales awaiting later expenditure.”
In total, Connecticut spent $497,659 per mile of road, the 44th most expensive in the nation. The average cost per mile was $178,116.”
Second, there is the cost. Current cost estimate for installing these toll gantries and collection system is $372 million, which will have to be recouped before any addition revenue is earned. Along with startup costs there are operational costs. According to Jonathan Peters, Professor of Finance for the College of Staten Island and Research Fellow at The University Transportation Research Center, “Tolls, generally, are expensive to collect. It’s not free. There’s a lot of technology and a lot of equipment and that equipment will have to be maintained and replaced over time.”
There will be millions of transactions and the costs of enforcement. This will create another state bureaucracy and all the hidden costs of employee salaries, benefits and pensions.
Third, although proponents claim that tolls will bring revenue to our transportation infrastructure, Connecticut will lose over $200 million in federal funding for transportation needs from returns on federal gasoline tax if tolls are installed as well as approximately $40 million from trucking fees based on mileage logs.
It is more than likely that a significant portion of the revenue eventually collected from tolls will be diverted from bridge and highway maintenance and used to expand mass transit projects.
Toll revenue goes into the general fund and as such it is also probable that much of this money will be not used for transportation costs or projects.
Finally, Connecticut residents will bear the brunt of the toll fees as a tax.
At least 70 percent of vehicles on Connecticut roads at any given time belong to Connecticut residents, so over 70 percent of revenue will be collected from Connecticut residents.
Congestion tolling is being actively pursued; this means that those traveling at peak traffic times, those traveling to and from work, will pay additional fees.
While our neighboring states have tolls on some roadways, it is nowhere near the extent of the proposed tolls here. Those toll rates are also far lower than what is being proposed for Connecticut.
Tell our representatives to cut the waste in the transportation department and the misappropriation of taxes already collected for road maintenance and infrastructure and to balance mass transit projects against the need to stabilize the economy.
Do not create further hardships for residents through tax increases in the form of tolls.
Mark Conrad lives in New Milford.
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