Nobody denies that there is an infrastructure crisis in Connecticut: 57 percent of public roads are in poor condition; 338 bridges are rated as structurally deficient. No one wants a repeat of the Mianus Bridge collapse, but that is where we are headed if nothing is done soon.
Instead of working together to find a fair and financially sound solution, politics has once again reared its ugly head and has served to divide us. One side is trying to convince us that more bonding — which is just more borrowing with more interest to put Connecticut into more debt — is the easy answer. There is no easy answer. More debt added to Connecticut’s already unsustainable debt is not a long term solution.
What we need is a new revenue source instead of continually kicking the problem down the road. We need a new revenue source that is shared by everyone who uses our roads — including the 40% who are out of state users. Why should Connecticut residents continue to be the only ones paying for Connecticut road maintenance? Out of state drivers use our roads for free while we pay tolls to use their roads! Do you realize that Connecticut is the ONLY state on the eastern seaboard where this is the case–the only state without toll roads?
Look at the toll revenues from only one year (2016): New Jersey $1.57 Billion, Pennsylvania $1 Billion, New York $708 Million, Massachusetts $395 Million, Maine $134 Million, New Hampshire $131 Million, Rhode Island $20 Million CONNECTICUT $0.
Why should we keep missing out on revenues like this — with 40 percent coming from out of state drivers? Introducing fair, safe and flexible tolls is the best solution for the long-term safety and health of our beautiful state.
Bonita Messman lives in Westport.
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