Letter: New Canaan DTC Supports Toll Legislation


The New Canaan Democratic Town Committee voted overwhelmingly in support of Governor Ned Lamont’s toll legislation and the position of our legislators, State Senator Will Haskell, State Senator Alex Bergstein and State Representative Lucy Dathan for the following common-sense reasons:

A study released by consultant CDM Smith at the end of 2018 laid out some potential locations, pricing and benefits for electronic tolling in Connecticut.  Tolls could produce more than $1 billion a year in revenue for the State by 2023. Of that, a little more than 40% would come from out-of-state motorists. About 71% of revenue would come from passenger vehicles with the rest coming from trucks and buses. One potential outline would have Connecticut E-Z Pass holders pay 4.4 cents off-peak and 5.5 cents on-peak per mile.  As an example it would cost $4.93 peak ($6.16 peak) for EZ Pass from New York border to Rhode Island. The cost per mile would be on the lower end and in line with Massachusetts Turnpike rates. The New Jersey turnpike is nearly 10 cents per mile.

Overall commuters would save on average 15 hours per year in travel time thanks to tolls and the infrastructure improvements that they wound fund. Western I-95 commuters would eventually save 18 hours per year just because of tolling and 29 hours per year if the highway was widened between Bridgeport and the New York State border.  The average speed on I-95 is 33 mph west of New Haven during the peak morning hour. It could increase to 42 mph or about a 25 percent reduction between tolls and infrastructure improvements.   Time saved overall by commuters between tolling and infrastructure improvements would be 20 million hours per year, which is worth about $500 million in economic benefits.

For over four decades, the Business Council of Fairfield County has mobilized Fairfield County’s business, political and community leadership around issues critical to the region’s viability as a business location. They strongly believe that Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure needs a reliable revenue stream to assure regular maintenance, enable new construction, and regularly introduce system enhancements. The BCFC believes Electronic Tolling is the best revenue stream toward the sustainable competitiveness of our state.  Electronic Tolling will charge non-resident trucks and cars that use the roadways it will increase the revenue in the range of 40%. 

Additional reasons we need to support this legislation:

– There is no dispute about the state of our infrastructure in Connecticut. Our old roads and bridges pose serious safety issues. Moreover, the state of our infrastructure deters businesses and families from moving here. We need to attract young families and businesses to grow our economy. CT is the only state on the Eastern seaboard without tolls and tolls would give us the revenue source to fix these problems.

– The Reason Foundation Report often quoted by opponents of tolls, when the flaws in the report are corrected to take into consideration:

  • CT DOT is not just responsible for roads but also bus, rail, ferry and the New Haven Line between New Haven and NY
  • Report uses route miles not actual lane miles in their calculations

   CT ranks 10th in this category nationally and  not near the bottom.  

– CT residents should not have to pay 100% of the costs when out-of-state drivers represent 40% of the traffic. After all, we pay their tolls when we drive on their roads.  The revenue raised will be protected by the constitutional lockbox.

– Bonding is not a sustainable source of revenue. The alternative “Prioritize Debt” plan using 30-year bonds would saddle us, our children, and our children’s children with repaying 100% of that cost plus interest which will double the total cost over that period. This is irresponsible and expensive.

– Peak rates will be frozen for 3 years and set at 4.4 cents per mile, plus/minus 30% (roughly 1.3 cents) to allow CT DOT the flexibility to ensure ultimate approval by federal DOT.

– Smart tolls need not be burdensome to Connecticut residents. We have the technology to provide discounts for Connecticut EZ Pass users, commuters and other frequents users, and low income residents. We can also place tolls in a manner that will discourage drivers from exiting the highway onto local roads to avoid tolls.

– To help working families, the bill allows for a monthly credit loaded onto an EZ-Pass, as well as ways to load cash onto passes at local convenience stores.

– The bill creates a Connecticut Transportation Commission – a bipartisan group of legislators, commissioners and the treasurer, to review and approve DOT’s plan.

– Additional benefits include $1 bus service, opening the highway welcome centers and tying revenues to an eventual decrease in the gas tax as revenues from tolls are achieved.

We believe that legislators must pass this bill and then work out details that everyone can live with in order to help CT move forward without adding more long-term, economy strangling debt.  We hope you will take a close look at the plan and consider supporting it as well.

Bob Smith, New Canaan DTC Vice Chair
Rich Lurie, New Canaan DTC Secretary 
Enthusiastically endorsed by the New Canaan DTC

3 thoughts on “Letter: New Canaan DTC Supports Toll Legislation

  1. We agree that money is needed for our transportation infrastructure. Then why does the legislature divert money from the “Lockbox” Special Transportation Fund? Why did they pass a budget with zero spending cuts? Why haven’t they addressed the runaway pension obligations? Citizens are not supporting tolls because we don’t trust the government to keep its promises and spend the tax increase on shorter commutes in Fairfield County. 30-30-30. It’s a question of Trust.

  2. While this endorsement may seem reasonable at face value the biggest issue with these new proposals is that there is no guarantee that the majority party legislators can be trusted to keep the funds raised specifically for transportation. They have a long history of diverting gas tax and other such funds away from transportation repairs to be spent elsewhere, such as the recent State union contract increases and the underfunded pension and benefit obligation costs. If tolls are implemented, will more current sources of transportation funding just be diverted elsewhere, limiting the potential funding of and improvement to infrastructure from tolls? The lockbox the voters approved is leaky and Democrat legislators have been diverting funds before they reach the transportation accounts. Just finding another revenue stream to burden our state residents with is not the answer. Tolls paid by local service providers will just be passed on to residents. Additional costs of goods transported into CT will just be passed onto CT residents. Many reforms need to be implemented prior to taking more funds/user fees from our residents, such as implementing financially viable public-private partnerships. But those solutions were blocked this session by the Democrat controlled legislature since the unions were opposed to such changes. There are also many flaws in the report provided by CDM Smith regarding the expected revenues from out of state drivers and the cost to residents. Those who created they study also have a history of getting their estimates wrong in other states and have a financial vested interest in having tolls brought in to CT. They are not an independent party to this proposal. It is hard to imagine any significant improvement in traffic in Fairfield County where roads cannot be easily widened and congestion pricing will not be effective for those employees such as teachers who cannot afford to live in Fairfield County and also cannot travel at non-peak times. While the Business Council of Fairfield County may support this proposal, the CT Business and Industry Association opposes the tolls proposal. The list of why not goes on and on. The final irony is that while the governor is demanding a debt diet to justify tolls, he has reamortized the State pension costs onto future generations and is more than happy to spend the unsubstantiated future toll revenue stream now before a penny is seen from an actual toll gantry. Visit the Yankee Institute for numerous articles on why there is reason for great concern with tolling – you won’t find much of this information in print in the CT newspapers since that would not further the cause. All roads lead back to the control that State Unions have on Democrat leadership and the legislative process in Hartford. It’s time to address the real issue in our State not just search for new buckets of revenue.

  3. My son is going to John’s Hopkins University and since Amtrak has convenient service I compared the cost to pick him up from Baltimore when he is on break. Amtrak costs $69 while driving roundtrip costs $55 in tolls plus $60 (@25mpg) in gas. Yup, we need more tolls!!! The Northeast is killing itself.

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