In business, you’re either growing or dying.  At Pride Travel Centers, we are always looking for ways to grow, whether that’s growing offerings for customers or opportunities for employees. At Pride Travel Centers, our most recent way to do that is a brand new, environmentally friendly travel center a half-a-mile from the intersection of Interstate 91 and Interstate 84 in Hartford.

This new “Hartford Travel Center” will provide motorists and professional drivers with gasoline and diesel refueling, many great food choices with relaxing seating, electric vehicle re-charging stations, propane fueling, hydrogen fueling, and a much-needed rest area and introduction to the City of Hartford.

The center will pay millions of dollars in state and local taxes, employ more than 50 full-time, local employees who will also contribute to Connecticut’s tax base and economy, and offer more clean, alternative fuels than any single facility in the United States today.

Gov. Ned Lamont has said his economic development team’s mission is “to promote and champion Connecticut to businesses who wish to locate or grow here.” Why would the state help us get started and then cut us at the knees? The reality is that tolls will hurt existing Connecticut businesses and drive away prospective companies that are considering locating here.

Why would the state help us get started and then cut us at the knees?

Tolls discourage businesses from investing in a particular area. Site selection strategists try to avoid sites near tolls.  The last thing cities like Hartford need is a blow to our business friendly image and to Connecticut’s recruiting power. It is easy to understand that if you significantly increase the cost of doing business in an area, you make that area, or in this case the entire state, less competitive.

Tolls drive up shipping costs and increase the costs of goods for all of us.  They impact restaurants and all businesses.  They will put all Connecticut businesses at a competitive disadvantage and further drive up the cost of working, living and operating in Connecticut.

Another concern is that tolls shift traffic patterns. They will affect restaurants and hotel businesses when drivers go around toll gantries, simultaneously adding traffic to smaller roadways and ensnarling local communities. My new travel center’s customer base will decline, and my employees will face the choice of paying a toll to get to and from work or extending their commute to avoid this new cost.

Tolls have very real, negative economic consequences for both businesses and residents.  Do we want Connecticut businesses to grow or die? The outcome on tolls will say all we business leaders need to know. For the sake of Connecticut’s economy, legislators should reject tolls in the upcoming special session.

 Robert Bolduc is the CEO of Pride Travel Centers

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  1. So my question to Mr. Bolduc is how then do you propose to provide sufficient revenue to maintain and improve our highways? No one can deny that our highways need continued maintenance and significant improvement. The gas tax has not been raised in more than 20 years. Revenue from it has been flat and is projected to go down over the next 30 years as drivers switch to alternative fuel vehicles. Inflation has significantly eroded what the gas will buy and build. Connecticut is the only state on the east coast that does not have tolls. According to CTDOT approximately 30% of the traffic on our major highways is out of state drivers who pay virtually nothing to use out roads. Would you rather the state raise the gas tax which is almost entirely paid for by Connecticut taxpayers? No one likes to pay more in taxes but if Connecticut is to address the significant needs its highways have, tolls are clearly the best way to generate that money while impacting Connecticut taxpayers to least.

    1. The argument that out of state drivers pay nothing for the use of our highways is false. The millions of dollars received by the state annually from the federal government results from federal taxes on gas which everyone in the country pays.

  2. The Center for Latino Progress, as a grassroots organization, is in support of investment in our transportation system generated by tolls. Toll revenue must be dedicated to building the sustainable transportation infrastructure of Connecticut’s future. Tolls, as fees for highway use, are sorely needed for maintenance, bridge replacements and continued investment in our transit and rail systems. A modern, multi-modal transportation system will allow businesses and communities to thrive while supporting the workers that power the economy.

    The state’s commerce and community health should be driving the decision making. Connecticut has the eighth-oldest population in the nation and needs transportation options that support our aging seniors while simultaneously attracting a generation of young adults and professionals that are moving back into cities and town centers. Both of those groups are looking to drive less and have an appetite for environmentally sustainable transportation that improves health, supports their neighborhoods and connects them to opportunities.

    A state that values all workers invests in accessible and high-quality transit systems and focuses on new development around transit corridors and stations. Not everyone is going to take CTtransit, CTfastrak, or the Hartford Line commuter rail to work, but as more do, it will lift our local economies, reduce highway congestion, and improve our environment. Considering the equity impact of tolls, we must provide a reduced fare structure for the working poor that are driving to work.

    While federal and state gas tax rates have been flat for decades, transit fares have continued to rise. We need to consider how the transportation system of the future will serve our children and grandchildren with a livable world and green jobs. Forty percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector, the largest contributing sector by far. Without a shift to a higher percentage of transit, rail, walking, and biking for commutes, we will be contributing to the global climate catastrophe. As a coastal state, Connecticut cannot pretend to ignore the ravages we will face from rising waters and extreme weather events.

    The state legislature and the governor are currently considering the structure and funding for Connecticut’s infrastructure investments and transportation system that will serve future generations. We are one of a few Northeast states that have yet to re-implement highway tolls, and that hinders our ability to invest in a transportation system that builds a vibrant and sustainable state. Gas tax revenues are flat and will be falling as cars become more efficient and the percentage of electric vehicles climb.


    1. We welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

  3. How much (or how little) are you paying your employees that they will avoid a few pennies in tolls each day and go out of their way to drive other routes using more (expensive) gas to get to their destinations?.

  4. No trust, no TOLLS! Tolls are a money grab pure and simple. Toll revenue collected WILL end up in the General Fund for pensions. Show me the math that demonstrates out of state drivers will generate 40% of toll revenue. Stop raiding the Special Transportation Fund and diverting those dollars into the General Fund! The Mirror reported between 2006-2014 $1.3 BILLION was diverted from gas tax revenue earmarked for transportation into the General Fund.
    The Legislature has been irresponsible in handling transportation funds, why will toll revenue be different?

  5. Connecticut needs to redesign development policy and create a comprehensive, short-/long-term economic development plan that resurrects the Connecticut economy (STATEWIDE) such that the present Stamford-centered, traffic-log-jam development policy that allows the Gold Coast to hog tax-base growth and avoid resident-workforce hosting issues/expenses — while choking-off/denying jobs and tax-base growth in the rest of state (and prevents large-scale/state-scale Connecticut economic growth), and which is causing our cities die in “red-star” fashion — is replaced with a visionary plan/policy that recreates the prosperous Connecticut of Yankee-ingenuity fame…
    Tolls will divert legislative attention from the aforementioned planning/policy by allowing transportation “fixes” that support the continuation of the present destructive economic development policy that constrain statewide growth and demand a commuting workforce forced to work for insufficient wages and spend valuable time and money commuting from the cities of SW CT and beyond…
    Tolls are an unfair tax on a workforce forced to commute, even while such tolls keep the economic development prerogatives in place that create that forced commute and impoverish the rest of the state while creating overall negative state economic momentum definable in terms of a “dying” state that is losing its young workforce, and future, to “healthy” states…
    Tolls are unfair and stupid for any forward-looking state resident — especially those not living in the SW portion of Fairfield County (and especially those living in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury…
    NO TO TOLL$!!!

    1. We welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

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