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TOLLS in Connecticut: Will it Happen?

June 2, 2017 By Staff
TOLLS in Connecticut: Will it Happen?

As Connecticut confronts a $5 billion deficit in the next two fiscal years, legislative Democrats are pushing for a new type of tax: electronic tolls on Connecticut's highways.

Will your daily commute from home to work soon come with electronic tolls? That’s a question legislators in Connecticut are debating this month, as the state faces a budget deadline and a growing deficit problem.

Proponents of reinstating tolls in Connecticut will need to pass three major hurdles to get there: 1) 76 votes in the House of Representatives, 2) 18 votes in the Senate (assuming Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D-Conn.) breaks a tie in favor), and 3) the signature of Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.), who is mum on the issue of tolls.

What’s the chance you’ll be paying tolls on Connecticut’s highways in the near future? Check it out.

DEMOCRATS: “INEVITABLE”

According to WTNH, House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said on Thursday that tolls in Connecticut “are inevitable.”

Ritter was echoing his superior, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin), who also said, in March, that tolls are “inevitable.”

But, so far, Ritter and Aresimowicz seem unable to whip the 76 votes necessary to pass tolls in the House. As the CT Mirror reported on Thursday:

House Republicans, who held just 37 seats as recently as 2010, have nearly doubled their numbers over four two-year election cycles. With a 79-72 majority, Democrats need GOP votes to pass anything if more than three Democrats object to a piece of legislation.

REPUBLICANS: NOT FROM US

But, as the Mirror also reported on Thursday, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) said the votes are unlikely to come from her caucus:

Klarides said only one of her members, “at most,” appeared ready to vote for tolls. House Democrats, who hold a 79-72 majority, cannot find the 76 votes necessary for passage among their members. Should they somehow manage the find the votes, the bill still would have to clear the evenly divided Senate.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST DRIVERS?

It’s hard to know how much tolls will cost Connecticut drivers at this time, but studies conducted by the state Department of Transportation last year offer some hints.

The most expensive option on I-84, it appears, would be a $1.00 peak toll “located east of the Sigourney ramps.” A driver paying tolls each way every work day (assuming roughly 250 work days in a year) would pay around $500 a year.

The most expensive option on I-95, meanwhile, would be $0.80 peak toll at 12 locations along I-95 between New York and New Haven. “A full length trip between New Haven and New York would be $9.60” during peak periods. A commuter paying the full toll each way every work day (assuming roughly 250 work days in a year) would pay around $4,800 a year in tolls.

Of course, these are the most expensive options, and only two of many presented alternatives. However, the fact remains: tolls will be expensive for some Connecticut drivers, should they pass the House, the Senate, Wyman, and Malloy.