The home page of Gov. Ned Lamont's transportation plan.

I applaud Gov. Ned Lamont for being bold in putting forth his $21 billion transportation plan to upgrade Connecticut’s infrastructure. Is it perfect? No, but it’s very much realistic, and something as comprehensive as this is long overdue.

Now that we know what it entails, it’s imperative that the Lamont administration doesn’t make the same mistakes of the past, namely, sabotaging its chances of moving this plan forward because of an incoherent communications strategy.

Review the whole report.

There is no doubt Lamont will face tons of backlash from the right and some in his own party because this plan relies on revenue from tolls to repay the low-interest federal loans that would be used to fund each repair project. After all, this is bound to happen when you propose the addition of a user fee.

This time around, Lamont should see it coming and be in a much stronger position to control the narrative. He needs to own this plan, defend it, promote it and stick by it no matter how much flak he receives from the “never-tollers.” His communications team should have already anticipated the expected vitriol that will be spewed in his direction and prepared him accordingly with irrefutable proof points that weaken the opposition’s argument.

First and foremost, Connecticut is a pass-through state connecting New York City to Boston. We should be monetizing this strategic advantage by charging out-of-staters a fee to use our transportation network. Tolls are the only realistic way to help modernize our transportation system with funding from non-Connecticut residents. This is a message that the Lamont administration should be pushing every chance it gets.

Second, no one can refute the benefits of the I-84 widening project in Waterbury and the positive effects it has had on reducing bottlenecks and traffic during rush hour. Most importantly, it was completed a year ahead of schedule and on budget, so it’s in the administration’s best interest to tout the success of this project when confronted with concerns about cost overruns and moving timelines.

Third, a transportation plan this large in scale will have a tremendous positive impact on the Connecticut economy. In addition to bringing about thousands of construction jobs, commuters will get to-and-from their destinations more quickly. As a result, commuters in Fairfield County might be more willing to travel to the XL Center on a weeknight to cheer on UConn, while those in-and-around Hartford would give less pause to using Route 9 to visit Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods.

In a divided state like Connecticut, there’s no doubt the Lamont administration has its work cut out for it. Obtaining the necessary votes certainly won’t be easy. That said, the quickest way for the governor to derail his transportation plan altogether is to once again let the dissenters get the best of him. If that happens, any chance of fixing the issues that clog our roadways will be left to the next administration.

I have no doubt that the governor is sincere in his vision to improve Connecticut’s transportation network. This plan proves that. Where I remain skeptical of him, however, is his ability to sell it with conviction. Here’s hoping the reshuffling of his communications team will help in this regard.

Matthew Chudoba is a strategic communications professional with over six years of agency and internal experience. He is currently is an Account Director at a Norwalk-based communications firm, where he is on the company’s real estate team.

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18 Comments

  1. What is not addressed above is trust. A quality this governor has yet to exhibit. Tolls will not happen because an already overtaxed population doesn’t trust government with toll revenue. It’s just that simple.
    The governor’s history of diverting funds from the Special Transportation Fund is exhibit A.
    His embrace of a $300 educational slush fund without Freedom of Information Act transparency is exhibit B.
    And never forget how this whole thing started; with Lamont campaigning on truck tolls only and flipping to car and truck tolls once elected.
    Where’s the trust Matthew?

    No trust, no TOLLS!

  2. I viewed the new website, which outlines the problem areas and planned fixes. It makes sense to move ahead with this. The tolls are minor. Improving transportation, traffic flow, and bridge repair is critical to our state. I live in Hartford and would welcome the I-91 improvements!

    1. Go ahead and write a check for your share of this latest heist and send it to the Permanent Clown Show playing Hartford then. I don’t live in Hartford and I already send too much of my money there and get too little for it.

      Better yet try taking that useless Busway to nowhere to deliver your check and then you might understand why taxpaying citizens don’t trust Hartford.

      1. You also obviously don’t have to commute daily through any of these problem areas and don’t truly care about our state. If you did you’d likely be singing a different tune.

        Oh yeah, the Busway’s ridership is ahead of projections and serves thousands of riders daily. That’s thousands of cars taken off already clogged roads. That’s hardly “useless”.

      2. You actually couldn’t be more wrong, Jay. You can type whatever you’d like that doesn’t make it true, accurate, or a fact.

        The facts are that if Ned said during the campaign he was gonna toll only trucks; no one believed him then and now he’s admitting with his latest Ponzi scheme that it wasn’t true. No one trusts him or the other spendthrifts in Hartford to tax us anymore than they currently do.

      3. I do use the Fastrack, which is far from useless. It’s actually a very convenient way to commute between Hartford and New Britain, Farmington and West Hartford. I’m also a taxpaying citizen,

      4. You wouldn’t be riding that useless Busway to nowhere if I wasn’t helping pay for your ticket, it would be cost prohibitive.

        Pay the rate as if it was unsubsidized then let’s see you crow about how much value exists in that pork barrel project; you wouldn’t even think about riding it if you had to pay the true cost of a fare.

    2. Helen, If you viewed the new website, did it occur to you to question who paid for that new web site? Who got the contract(s) to create and operate it? How much of you tax $$ are being used for it?

      Did you look at the site carefully enough to see the $14,438,252 in bribes/slush funds to the towns and legislators where they want to put driving TAX gantries?

      Have you realized that if you are forced to pay driving TAXES when you drive near where you live in Hartford, a key goal of the money you’ll pay is to use it for trains going to & from Manhattan from lower Fairfield Cty. That’s so the Manhattanites for whome Ct is a bedroom community can save 10-15 minutes on their train ride. How much will their “user fee” go up in Lamont’s plan? The answer is NOTHING!

      1. I’m not an uncritical thinker. I do see that shooting down every plan to improve our transportation system (and it’s a system that needs to serve all of the state) keeps us spinning our wheels. The bridges won’t last forever. We need infrastructure improvements, and it takes funds to do that. I don’t love everything Lamont is doing and I thought Malloy was a terrible Governor on the whole, but both were and are right in trying to prioritize transportation issues, get more and better mass transit, and keep our highways from deteriorating.

      2. Helen, As has been widely reported and written, the driving TAX controversy isn’t about “shooting down every plan to improve our transportation system”, it is about how to pay for it. That’s where the great divide is. Lamont and his allies’ dream of driving TAX gantries all over Ct. is not the way to do that.

        You didn’t answer any of the questions I asked you.

    3. Tolls and taxes are always “minor” for those who can afford it. For those who can’t it’s never “minor.” NO TOLLS. We are taxed enough.

  3. No one disputes the benefits of improving transportation (although the reason people are not flocking to UConn or Mohegan Sun might have more to do with the destination). Since fiscal year 2000, Connecticut’s General Fund gross tax revenues have increased 40.8 percent overall — rising from $13 billion in fiscal year 2000 to $18.3 billion in fiscal year 2018. The point of the “never tollers”, as you disparagingly call the majority of CT residents, is to find the money for transportation in the $18.3 billion CT taxpayers are giving you every year.

  4. Referring to the Waterbury I-84 project only undercuts your pro-driving TAX position. That project was done without driving taxes. Make no mistake, those gantries will not be collecting “user fees” as Lamont is now calling them. They will be collecting electronic driving TAXES if they are ever built. People are not fooled by Orwellian word games.

    Improvements to our infrastructure can be done without a new revenue source. The need for one is a myth created by Lamont and his pro-driving TAX allies. Despite his closed ears and mind, there have been alternatives suggested directly to him.

  5. It took over 20 years for funding to become available for that I-84 project in Waterbury. That’s 20 years that drivers had to sit needlessly in traffic. Do you know how much gas was wasted in that time period? Do you know how much time and money are wasted at each of the choke points that Governor Lamont has identified? Our state has tried the bandaid approach to transportation funding and it has not worked. It’s past time we addressed one of our biggest problems.

    1. Jay, All that is needed is to stop the mis-use of the STF and a lot more than Lamont’s driving TAX amount of $30 million would be available.

      It’s been about a week and you still haven’t answered these questions –
      What led you to suggest I am not concerned about the condition of our roads and transportation network? You are quite wrong. As has been widely reported and written, the driving tax controversy isn’t about that, it is about how to pay for it. That’s where the great divide is.

      Additionally, you didn’t answer this question: “Where and when was it publicly said or written that Ct’s extensive toll proposal is “a model for future programs”? Did Lamont, Arisimowicz, Lemar, Looney, Leone, other pro-tolls pols say that?

      You also didn’t answer this request: “Please tell us why doing something because others do it is a good reason to do anything.”

  6. There is no trust in Lamont or Democrats. They steal the gas tax money and complain there is no money for roads, while bailing out Hartford with 500 million and finding 500 million for the census. Who is to say they won’t steal this money to an already unbalanced budget, or keep the tolls permanent at higher cost. Original plan was to let DOT decide where and how much the tolls would be without additional legislature votes. So there is zero trust.

  7. Seems necessary to point out again, tolls won’t produce revenues for five years. If transportation problems are urgent, forget tolls.
    Bond the money needed, especially with the federal government offering low interest and a long repayment schedule. Other revenues can be dedicated when needed; no new revenue stream is required.
    The attempt to link tolls and transportation projects fails.

  8. NO matter how it is repackaged it is the same “gift”…. another tax. We do not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. There has been ample money for the road projects. Lamont has INcreased spending, INcreased the number of union members, given 11% raises in some cases while elevating employees once non union to union status. He has repeatedly and continues to redirect monies for the transportation fund to union benefits and wages. (5 times those of the folks paying the bill.) Malloy spoke the truth when he said every single cent that is collected goes to union wages and pensions, every single cent and then some.” That is exactly where the $$ from tolls will go as well. Cost cutting is never even uttered. Shame on him and the folks that voted to destroy this once great state. NO TOLLS………….

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