A coalition of construction businesses and trades launched a new television and online advertising campaign Tuesday that makes a pitch for electronic tolling to refinance a critical rebuild of Connecticut’s highways, bridges and rail lines.
First established last spring to support tolls, the Move CT Forward coalition is renewing its efforts as legislators near a conclusion on this year’s transportation financing debate.
“With tolls, trucks and out of state drivers will pay more, we will pay less,” the narrator of the ad states. “And taxpayers will get a break. Connecticut needs to fix our roads now, our families’ safety depends on it.”
Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed establishing electronic tolls on Interstates 84, 91 and 95 and on the Merritt Parkway. Lamont estimates tolls could raise $800 million per year and as much as 40 percent of revenues could come from out-of-state motorists.
Republican legislators have offered a counter-proposal, Prioritize Progress, which would avoid tolls.
Most transportation capital projects are funded with a mix of state borrowing and matching federal grants. The GOP recommends redirecting some state borrowing currently used for school construction and other non-transportation programs to instead support highway, bridge and rail work.
Move CT Forward includes the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, the Connecticut Laborers’ District Council, and the Connecticut Ready-Mixed Concrete Association.
“Connecticut’s roads and bridges continue to worsen before our eyes,” said Don Shubert, president of the construction industries association. “We have to act now. If we keep doing nothing, we will watch as our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, putting drivers’ safety at risk. Inaction simply does not represent the best interests of the people of Connecticut.”
The new campaign also opposes raising existing taxes that support transportation, such as the state’s retail and wholesale fuel levies, arguing this approach largely would spare out-of-state motorists.
“Raising the state’s gas tax or borrowing to simply add hundreds of millions of dollars will only leave Connecticut taxpayers footing the bill for fixing our roads and bridges,” said David Jarvis, Business Representative and Organizer for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “There are real, fair solutions out there that do not unfairly burden Connecticut residents.”
“Failure to make necessary repairs on our aging roads and bridges puts every single Connecticut resident at risk,” said Keith Brothers, Business Manager of the Connecticut Laborers’ District Council. “This campaign is meant to ensure that people get the real facts on available options so they can decide what is the fairest, best way for Connecticut to fix its infrastructure crisis.”