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Lamont to Hold Transportation Event; Will Tolls Come Up?

September 25, 2018 By Staff
Lamont to Hold Transportation Event; Will Tolls Come Up?

The Democratic gubernatorial nominee and his running mate, Susan Bysiewicz, will discuss "21st century transportation and infrastructure improvement" on Tuesday in Meriden.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ned Lamont and his running mate, lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Susan Bysiewicz, are holding an event in Meriden on Tuesday to plug their plans for “21st century transportation and infrastructure improvement in Connecticut.”

What remains to be seen is if, and how, tolls will come up at the event.

SHIFTING POSITIONS?

Lamont and Bysiewicz once appeared to embrace tolls on the campaign trail. Reclaim Connecticut noted earlier this year that in January 2018 the CT Mirror reported Lamont “embraced electronic tolling,” and in February 2018 Kevin Rennie’s Daily Ructions reported Bysiewicz “made a plan to raise impose $3 billion a year in tolls a staple” of her platform.

Now, though, Lamont supports a narrow type of tolling, on out-of-state trucks. From Lamont’s current infrastructure page:

I know that improvements to roads, bridges, trains, airports, public transit, and broadband will help catalyze our state’s economic growth, so I recognize that the people of our state cannot not afford to make these investments. That is why I support electronic tolling on heavy trucks that are coming in from out of state, which use our roads toll free and create significant wear-and-tear.

Reclaim Connecticut pointed out in June that the irony of Lamont’s plan is that it would likely not generate enough revenue to satisfy the state’s transportation needs. A recent study of Gov. Dan Malloy’s (D-Conn.) plan to reinstate tolls on Connecticut highways estimated about 70 percent of tolls would be paid by in-state drivers.

POLLING MIXED

A recent poll from Sacred Heart University found some support for a proposal like Lamont’s: 52.2 percent of Connecticut voters “strongly” (26.1 percent) or “somewhat” (26.1 percent) agreed with the statement: “Electronic highway tolls that collect significant money from out-of-state motorists and interstate trucks as well as from Connecticut residents would be an effective way to help pay for highway improvements to relieve congestion.” Just over 40 percent (42.7 percent) disagreed with the statement.

However, another recent poll, from Quinnipiac University, found that 53 percent of Connecticut voters were opposed to “putting tolls on state highways in Connecticut,” with only 40 percent of voters supporting tolls.

A logical takeaway from the polls could be that a majority of voters are opposed to reinstating electronic tolls, but that some voters shift to supporting tolls if they are just on out-of-state cars and trucks.

Whether voters will buy Lamont’s shift on tolling is another question entirely.