Many opinions, plenty to say about highway tolls
Support for ‘residents first’ plan
Legislative debate and public meetings throughout the state have served to add important information and perspectives to the looming decision on transportation financing legislation introduced earlier this session.
A near consensus now exists on the consequences of underfunding our transportation infrastructure and the importance of immediate, increased investment.
Specifics – from the uses of funds for particular projects, to the number and location of electronic fare collection points and the amounts of the fares themselves – have been offered by the Lamont administration. While each of these specifics may have oppositional points of view, a bipartisan aggregate estimate of the annual amount needed – $2 billion – has emerged.
Disagreement continues on how best to find the funds needed. Therefore, we feel it is important to reaffirm The Business Council’s position: We support the unified legislation that is emerging from the legislative process.
Adopting toll legislation in this session will start the implementation process by permitting the finalization of the technical deployment plan, the development of a “residents first” system of discounts and the prioritization and efficient implementation of safety, state of good repair, and new capacity projects. Critically, it will also start the process of sharing the costs with non-resident vehicles, putting us on an even footing with our neighboring states.
We urge the General Assembly to finalize legislative language and bring the question to a vote. Once adopted, we look forward to participating in a transparent implementation planning process and expect to remain vigilant to assure that funds intended for transportation reach their destination.
Let’s get started.
Christopher P. Bruhl is President and CEO of the Business Council of Fairfield County.
More costs for small business
I am writing this letter in opposition of the proposed toll bill.
As a small business owner in the state of Connecticut this bill will have a drastic impact on my business and my customers.
Any tolls that are implemented and more costs associated to running a small business in the state will be automatically passed on to the direct consumer, people buying and selling homes, further impacting the real estate market in this state.
I am urging the state legislators in Connecticut to reconsider this very harmful toll bill and speak with your constituents because more than 85 percent of the people in the state, if polled, would not want tolls.
Brian Johnson is the owner of Huntington Home Inspection LLC.
Questions for those opposed
I support tolls on Connecticut’s roads. There are four questions I have for people who are anti-toll:
- Why should residents of Connecticut pay tolls to other states, but give the residents of every other state a free ride – why subsidize them? From April 3 to April 11 I paid the following tolls: New York, $35.14, Pennsylvania $16.10, New Jersey $22.30, Rhode Island $8. I paid $81.54 to those states. Residents of those states paid nothing to Connecticut. Given Connecticut’s dire financial condition, can we afford to give every citizen in America a free ride on our roads?
- The Republican Prioritize Progress Plan looks to borrow approximately $1.6 billion/year for the next 10 years and expects that to continue for the next 30 years. totaling $65 billion. Most of that money is borrowed. In a state where 49 percent of the 2018 budget pays for fixed costs (i.e., mostly debt service, pensions and Medicaid) why would we want to further cripple our financial flexibility by adding more to the fixed cost?
- In a state where our credit rating is close to junk status, how can we be responsible for using more of our bonding authority to saddle our future generations with more debt?
- How can we count on money from the federal government when, after 2 ½ years of the current administration, there is yet to be any work on a federal infrastructure bill?
Connecticut needs to move to “pay as you go” and everyone, including residents from outside Connecticut, need to pay for the roads and infrastructure. Tolls will substantially cover most of those costs today – bonding just shifts the expenses plus interest to the next generation.
It’s time for Connecticut to have a dedicated source of funds to pay for its transportation needs.
Ross Tartell lives in Wilton.
Borrowing funds is irresponsible
A few years ago I realized that I knew very little about politics and virtually nothing about state issues. I decided to get a group of women together so we could ask questions, educate each other and bring in speakers to help us figure out truth from fiction and where to put our energy. This group has led me to writing this letter.
I moved from New Jersey to Connecticut over 15 years ago and have truly fallen in love with this state. This is my home and I hope my children will go out and explore the world and eventually return home. I care now more than ever about the well-being of our state and that has led me to researching, questioning and pushing our state to readmit tolls to our roads.
What I have learned over the past few months from this amazing group of women is that the concept of bonding is irresponsible and tolls are a worthy solution.
Bonding will just add to the debt of Connecticut taxpayers and that will leave my children paying for our poor choices. I would rather ask out-of-state drivers to help share the cost of fixing our roads than leave it all to state residents. I am paying for every state’s infrastructure when I drive to New Jersey or New York and when I drive to Maine in the summer.
Our roads are in terrible shape and our bridges are structurally deficient. I fear for my children’s safety every time they drive to and from New Haven. This issue needs to be addressed now and we need to approach the solution in a non-partisan way.
The money from tolls will go into a lock box for transportation only. Revenues from tolls will allow for a lower gas tax, which benefits all of us.
The research is out there and I would argue it is time for our leaders to inform their constituents why tolls are a necessary step in helping solve Connecticut’s financial issues. It’s time to take bold steps to work together to improve our state.
Melissa Shein lives in Westport.
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