The tolls to New York City are not highway tolls -- they are bridge tolls.
Electronic driving taxes (A/K/A/ “tolls”) are a bad idea for numerous reasons.

The push for tolls in Connecticut is based on the false premise that a new revenue source is needed. The Special Transportation Fund (STF) needs to be returned to its original purpose of only funding upkeep of our roads and bridges.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed diversion of vehicle sales tax money away from the STF needs to be stopped. It’s absurd Lamont plans to put the STF into deficit and then he claims we need his driving TAXES. Many times since the STF was created in 1984, when the general fund was in bad shape and the STF was in good shape, expenses for state government salaries and pensions for DOT, DMV, and Public Safety were shifted to the STF by the legislature. That should be reversed. The STF needs to get back to its intended purpose – our road and bridge upkeep.

The “get those out-of-state drivers” mantra keeps getting repeated. Out-of-state vehicles driving in CT are either only 25 percent, or 30 percent, or at the most 40 percent, depending on which study results you want to use. So, you, me, and our fellow Connecticut drivers are the 75  – 60 percent who will pay the proposed driving TAXES. There is more damage done to our roads by us, Connecticut residents and drivers. The driving TAX advocates like to stir up anger among us toward those “horrible, mean, nasty, out-of-staters” because it suits their goal of manipulating public opinion. Creating an “other” group to be angry with is an age old propaganda tactic.

Out-of-state drivers also contribute to our Federal highway funds through the Federal fuel tax when they buy fuel. Our state fuel tax should be reduced so our fuel prices can achieve parity with neighboring states and those drivers will buy more Connecticut fuel with Connecticut fuel tax.

Another false premise is the “all the other states have them” myth. Not all states have them. For those that do, no state in the USA has a driving TAX gantry density like the 50 gantries proposed for our small state. No state in the USA has as high a percentage of its highways with them as proposed for Connecticut. None.

People frequently say “When I go to New York I pay tolls.” If they mean going to Manhattan, they don’t pay highway tolls, only a bridge toll. It’s apples and oranges. What is proposed for Connecticut are highway tolls.  Driving in Massachusetts is sometimes used as a comparison, too. That’s another false premise.

Drive nine of the ten interstate highways in Massachusetts and you pay no highway tolls. Drive any highway or parkway in New York state other than the Thruway and pay no highway tolls. Drive I-91 from New Haven through Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont all the way to Canada and pay no highway tolls. Drive the length of the Taconic Parkway in New York and pay no highway tolls. Drive I-87 from the Albany area all the way to Canada and you’ll pay no highway tolls.

The driving TAX proposal for Connecticut needs to be opposed and defeated. It has been defeated every other time it has come up and it CAN be defeated this time.

Neil Tolhurst lives in New Hartford.

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  1. I wouldn’t be so against the tolls if I knew they would be a reasonable cost, for example, a few cents per mile. But I know they’re going to be expensive like they are in every other toll state around us and the prices will only go up. If they really just want to stick it to out-of-state drivers, they could set a considerably higher toll rate for out-of-state license plates and a low/discounted rate for in-state drivers. Makes good sense to me, as residents already pay exorbitant state & local taxes.

  2. What truly troubles me is the creation of the Connecticut Transportation Commission (CTC) and its member makeup, as well as the statement that this legislation must be passed, a policy established, and THEN submitted to the Feds for approval.

    1 – A 13 member CTC comprised of 7 appointees and 6 elected officials lays the groundwork for elected officials being able to ‘skate’ when any policy change is put forth, assuming a simple majority vote can put it into place. Then they can say that they didn’t vote for it.

    2 – I also fear what could happen if the Feds reject the CTC & DOT’s proposed tolling. The legislation will have been enacted allowing the CTC to toll roads OTHER than the Interstates in Connecticut. Roads like Route 2, Routes 6, 7 & 8, Route 15, etc.

    I have being trying to make the very point that Mr Tolhurst makes in his piece above – while other states have tolls, it is nowhere near as ubiquitous as the politicians would have us believe.

    Scale it back to specific road projects or eliminate it, use the fees and taxes imposed for transportation for transportation ONLY.

  3. The Special Transportation Fund (STF) is a separate issue from tolls and it is misleading to suggest that if any perceived issues with STF were changed the need for tolls would go away. Our roads need to be fixed and someone has to pay for it with or without STF.

    If I have to help pay for NY, NJ, MA, etc. roads when I travel through their states I expect their residents to help pay for our roads when they use them.

    Attaching the word “tax” to the tolls debate does nothing but try to evoke negative feelings. Tolls are a form of user fee, i.e., pay them if you use the road. I can get to Boston without paying tolls, but it would take longer so I pay for the use of their roads to get there quicker. If someone wanted to go from NY to Boston without paying CT tolls proposed, they could, but it would take longer. They only pay if they use the road with the toll.

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