Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)
Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)
Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)
Modern tolls use overhead gantries like this one on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Arnold Reinhold / Creative Commons)

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.” 

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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16 Comments

    1. Interesting that the trades support this so more work is in the future yet their members will also bear the brunt of the real cost to taxpayers. Makes me wonder what the rank-and-file actually feel about tolls.

      1. They probably think they would prefer to have out-of-state motorists pay for the necessary restoration of our highways and public transit. Do you prefer to have us pay for it alone? Someone has to pay; it seems reasonable to find a way to get those who use our roads so extensively should help pay for their maintenance and upgrade–40% of revenue would be from out-of-state motorists and we won’t need to raise other taxes to generate this money.

      2. Can you give us any idea of the amount of State taxes on gasoline that are diverted from the STF into the general fund on an annual basis? I keep hearing this is an ongoing method of operation for balancing the budget but have seen no numbers. I also have read the governor is causing the collapse of the STF but diverting even more from the fund into the general fund. Can you verify any of this?

    1. So you think we should subsidize out-of-state motorists, paying for the roads they use to travel through CT. And I suppose you don’t think we should repair our roads because we have to get the money from somewhere. Or you support raising taxes than ONLY CT residents pay. They do love you in MA, NY, and RI.

      1. Mr Carstensen, Connecticut receives hundreds of millions of transportation dollars from the federal government to improve and build interstate highways. This money is partially funded by federal gasoline taxes which all people pay whether they are in state or out of state. So, just like a drive through Vermont where there are no tolls, I am paying for their highways through my contribution to federal revenue.

      2. You should read some Massachusetts news papers. CT residents owe Massachusetts more in unpaid tolls than any other state .Our states don’t have any agreement in place to force CT to pay MA. If i was mass, I’d take my ez pass off my window and not pay .Its not like MA will help CT recoup the cost since we don’t help them .https://www.thewesterlysun.com/news/stonington/massachusetts-likely-to-wait-to-recoup-unpaid-connecticut-tolls/article_f816ba66-2826-11e9-be65-0327a7a74f7b.html

      3. The mythical 40% is just that. How much do Connecticut drivers owe Massachusetts right now and they have no way of collecting? Between 2006 and 2014 Connecticut diverted $1.3 BILLION from gas tax revenue that was earmarked for transportation and plowed into the General Fund. How much from 2015 to the present?
        Tolls are nothing more than another tax. This deal was started with a Lamont lie. Why do you think there is any honorable outcome given Hartford’s history of robbing for the General Fund?

      4. Since our “transportation infrastructure” is critical to the “growth” of the state’s economy, can someone explain to me why the $760 million spent on CT Rail ($564MM from CT) https://www.masslive.com/business-news/2018/01/ctrail_how_new_haven-springfield_rail_will_work_tickets_schedules.html

        has now resulted in the cancellation of a number of morning trains between Hartford and Springfield? Since its “critical” that we spent the $564MM for a service that isn’t being used. Maybe the $564MM could have been used to for other purposes?

        There is zero confidence that any new “revenue” source will be directed at what its meant for and that whatever does get repaired/built will be done so efficiently at costs that are comparable to what other states’ costs are for similar projects.

        Connecticut ranks last in the country in business environment and we cannot tax our way to prosperity as companies, people and families depart for more economically attractive places to work and live.

  1. When will the state be honest about the tolls? A 0.625 cent increase in the sales tax will raise the same amount of money with half the hassle. Thus the people that buy more pay more. What is the current gas tax, gross gas receipt tax being used for. Is it going to the transportation fund or the general fund. We see how easy it is to divert funds to projects that pay off in political capital. Currently 13 mile bus way is costing approximately 25 million a year to operate. The railway is costing 30 million a year to operate. Where is the plan for using the money? Where is the plan for billing for out of state drivers that are not forced to pay? Lots of questions with very few answers from the lawmakers.

      1. They subsidize me. I travel in RI without paying tolls, same in MA. I can travel from CT to Canada without paying a toll…

      2. Actually, I am unhappy subsidizing the tax/spend/borrow madness out of Hartford, which has no end at the hands of one party rule Democrats. You as an economist will see the other end of the Laffer curve when ever more taxes have a diminishing effect on state revenues.

  2. This is the most self-serving piece of crap I’ve seen in a long time. I
    just love how the “construction community” has bound together to try to
    push CT residents into agreeing with tolls. If our roads are in such
    crappy condition, then they are to blame as I, personally, have ZERO
    decision making capabilities on what roads are fixed or where the money
    from the general fund goes. Remember the general fund? Hmmm? You know
    all those billions of dollars that were supposed to be used for
    transportation? So they pissed away that money and now feel they need to
    go on a scare campaign about the state of our roads.

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