Connecticut Drivers Will Start Paying their Fair Share, Thanks to Toll Plan

A Metro-North train at the Stamford station. Travel times could decrease if a driver tolling plan is approved. Photo: Adam E. Moreira
A Metro-North train at the Stamford station. Travel times could decrease if a driver tolling plan is approved. Photo: Adam E. Moreira

The days of a free ride across Connecticut are ending as Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is proposing tolls on the state’s major highways to rebuild its aging transit infrastructure.

The Lamont administration wants to install new electronic tolls on interstates 84, 91, 95 and the Merritt Parkway that would charge motorists 4.4 cents per mile and raise $800 million for the state budget by 2024. About 40 percent of the toll fees would be paid by out-of-state travelers while the rest would come from Connecticut drivers, although in-state motorists would receive a discount.

The governor argues that the toll revenue would fund reconstruction of several crumbling roadways, including a section of I-91 near the I-84 interchange in Hartford perpetually clogged by traffic that Lamont hopes to fix within 30 months by doubling capacity. The funds would also go toward positive train control technology and replacing outdated trains with lighter versions on the state’s rail network, ensuring 30-minute rides on legs between Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Grand Central Terminal. 

Unlike Connecticut’s highways, which are largely flat, Lamont’s toll legislation has an uphill climb. 

He’ll have to get his plan past a wary Democrat-controlled state legislature, where Republicans and even some Democrats staunchly oppose it. The legislative session ends on June 5.

“I’ve tried everything I could to get the legislators willing to step up and cast a tough vote. They don’t always like a tough vote,” Lamont said at a press conference on Friday. “We have a plan that’s ready to go. I’m ready for them to bring that out to the floor.”

Both parties are pressing Lamont for more details about the tolls, and Republicans unveiled their own plan dedicating $2.4 billion more toward rebuilding transit than Lamont’s would over the next four years, but Lamont has not warmed to their proposal.

State Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti said the state needs at least $2 billion per year to upgrade its roadways and rail lines, and an even larger amount next decade. Connecticut is currently spending about $1.5 billion annually on transit, borrowing about $700 to $800 million per year to pay for capital improvements. The Nutmeg State receives the rest in federal matching funds. 

Pressure is mounting to get a deal done as the end of the session nears.

A pro-driver group delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures opposing tolls last week and is planning to rally at the state capitol on May 18.

State lawmakers from Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest parts of the country, are pressing for a carve out for commuters on the Merritt Parkway. Lamont floated the idea to appease them and did not refute doing so when asked on Friday.  The plan would require federal approval, though Connecticut did have tolls on its highways for years.

The state’s business and labor leaders are giving Lamont the support he needs to win over skeptical voters, calling the need for transit infrastructure a “bigger issue than taxes.”

“Unless we invest in infrastructure, Connecticut has a very bleak future,” president of the Connecticut Construction Industry Association Don Shubert told CT Mirror.

Connecticut isn’t the only state imposing new costs on drivers. In April, the New York legislature passed a congestion pricing plan that will add new $11 to $14 tolls on vehicles and $25 fees on trucks barreling into Manhattan below 60th Street by 2021. And Washington, D.C., lawmakers are considering adding tolls on roads and bridges controlled by the District to mitigate traffic and raise revenue.

16 thoughts on Connecticut Drivers Will Start Paying their Fair Share, Thanks to Toll Plan

  1. Okay fine. That’s what libertarians and Republicans have been supporting for a while now. Implicating user fees with the highways they use. It’s hardly fair that gas tax revenue get’s diverted to pay for transit……Limiting highway and transit funding to expected revenues would fix our highways but cripple transit. The fact is, the transit industry has evolved into a taxpayer addict; where subsidies account for over 70% of it’s operating costs and nearly ALL it’s capital costs.

  2. @LazyReader Transportation is an integrated system. Raising the cost of driving will increase the demand for transit alternatives and it makes sense to use at least some of the money raised to provide those alternatives.

  3. From an environmental perspective it’s certainly fair that motorists, especially those operating fossil fuel-burning automobiles, contribute to public transit infrastructure and operation expenses. Public transit riders help ensure that roadways are less congested and help ensure that the air we all breathe is less polluted. Public transit provides further environmental benefits which are well worthy of being subsidised by motorists, especially those that are directly contributing to the demise of our planet’s environmental health.

  4. Why should drivers pay for a system they’re not using? New York’s congestion charges is nothing than a scheme to milk drivers to pay for their dilapidated subway they cant afford. It would be nice if true congestion pricing, which would price individual roads based on the amount of traffic, were implemented. But cordon pricing, which simply charges people for crossing a geographic boundary whether the street they are on is congested or not, is not true congestion pricing. Other potential targets being considered include increased payroll taxes, an increased real estate transfer tax, ending the sales tax exemption on clothing, raising gas taxes, a cannabis tax, and taxes on casinos and sports betting. Alot of these have something in common: the potential taxpayers have no direct connection to the transit system. The purpose of congestion fees isn’t to solve congestion, it’s purpose is political or environmentally driven; either to obtain an additional source of revenue, or challenge pollution by taking cars off the road; we call those “Externality payments”. Usually this form of revenue is often sprung and idealized politically as a last ditch effort. Sold to the public with the guarantee “Don’t worry you wont pay it, the other guy will”. The oldest political strategy in the book is saying Group A should pay for group B and vice versa. Usually when the city government is facing some sort of financial crisis externality fees crop up when Problem [insert] creeps up. It’s neither good nor bad, simply a inevitability when the city’s piggy bank has already been smashed open.

    The bottom line is that rail transit is extremely expensive and outside New York serves little real purpose. The real solution focusing the costs of said transportation infrastructure on it’s beneficiaries. Highways costs should be bared by those using the highways and transit systems costs should be covered by those using them. Instead to save riders 75 cents they’re charging autodrivers 10 bucks; it does little to stave off pollution and places no real focus on fixing the subways.

  5. I’d say no to any funding proposal that raises money for expanding the road network as this governor proposes.

  6. Amazing to me that you consider the state with the 2nd worst tax situation in the country to be a free ride. Truly stunning how bad this article was and that someone was paid to write it

  7. Are you that stupid? Connecticut is one of the most expensive states to live in. We already pay 5 different taxes just to drive. The only free loaders on the road are the out of state drivers that pass through. Our last moron governor spent millions on new train stations and railroads that no one uses. Before that we spent millions on that rotten fastrack bus system that hardly any tax payers use. All Democrats are good at is wasting money.

  8. 1. CT does not need more revenue!! It needs lower costs. Hard choices but required.
    1a. What is the capital cost of the tolls? What is the payback? All we ever hear is the revenue, NOT COST and payback. We don’t need more revenue from new taxes. We need more revenue from more economic activity!!
    1b. Mr Lamont’s toll plan does little to fix the State’s real problems.
    2. Where is the existing revenue from gas tax and car property tax, etc which was designated for transportation? Where is this money going? From F/S it looks like more money is being collected than being spent? Why?
    3. Tolls existed when no income tax – dropped after income tax.
    4. CT was booming when no income tax!! So are no/low tax states today e.g., TX, FL, WA, TN, etc. Doesn’t take a genius.
    5. Cost of State government has increased exponentially causing the need for income taxes – why? Don’t worry about the local municipalities – worry about the state government costs!!
    6. As tax revenue goes down due to exodus of businesses and people from CT, and costs continue to go up – how does that work? We need to keep AND attract people and businesses and GROW – like the non-tax states.
    6.

    5.

  9. For those who question the wisdom of charging motorists to subsidize public transit and other environmentally friendly forms of transportation, I ask if you’ve read the news? Recent temperatures near the Arctic Circle are 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit above average for this time of year and the highest carbon dioxide levels in over 800,000 years were recently recorded. Our planet is changing drastically and the least we can do is ask drivers to pay a little bit more for the pollution and turmoil they’re wreaking on our planet.

  10. The state of CT doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Highest maintenance cost per mile in the country. Why don’t we sell Shoreline east and CT Rail and use the proceeds to fund the roads. Living in NE CT, I will reap absolutely no benefit from this tolling plan except the added cost of getting to work. The buses that run near me would take 1 1/2 hr for the commute that currently takes me 15 minutes. Thanks for nothing CT.

  11. There are very interesting question and very positive thinking in geometry dash your mind so i like this topic so i one suggestion we can use it now bing

  12. And that’s what you get you brain dead zombies for voting for this asshole I lol at you people he baited you with legalized marihuana and tell me how is that coming along? Never vote Democrat they ruin everything they touch.

  13. Start paying? What ignorant dingaling wrote this article? I suppose we have been hallucinating when we put millions of dollars into funds that are then diverted.

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