Limited Highway Tolls Bill Advances

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A bill that would allow for the return of tolls on some Connecticut highways cleared a key legislative step on Friday.

The General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, on a 23-12 vote, approved a bill that would allow tolls on new state highways or highway extensions, such as the proposed completion of Route 11 in southeastern Connecticut.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further action.

Members of the southeastern Connecticut delegation have pushed for the legislation as a way to help pay to finish Route 11, a project that has been stalled for years. It ends abruptly in Salem, detouring traffic onto a narrow, two-lane road.

The bill would not be mandatory.

“It’s not about putting tolls on existing highways. It’s not about border tolls. So if you’re concerned about your constituents who are currently commuting along our highways, nothing will change with this bill,” said Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme. “Passage of this bill does not mean tolls are automatically going to go up anywhere.”

But some Republican members of the committee said although they understand the desire to finish Route 11, they fear the bill could ultimately lead to tolls elsewhere in the state and possibly someday along existing stretches of highway.

“I think what we’re doing is establishing some level of precedent,” said Rep. David Scribner, R-Brookfield, the ranking House Republican on the Transportation Committee.

Another bill, proposed by Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, the committee’s co-chairman, would allow electronic highway tolls elsewhere in Connecticut to help raise much-needed state revenue for transportation expenses. Guerrera said there are some technical issues with the bill, which has mixed support in the General Assembly, but he said still plans to pursue the legislation.

The General Assembly closed the state’s toll booths in the late 1980s following some fatal crashes.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the state’s new Democratic governor, has said he might favor using tolls to help raise money to help complete Route 11, which was supposed move traffic from the Waterford/New London area to Hartford.

Jutila said he received a wake-up call a year or so ago when the Department of Transportation commissioner told the legislature that Route 11 was among a number of projects considered to be “un-fundable.”

“I realized at this point we’re probably not going to do new highway construction without coming up with a new mechanism for paying for it,” he said. This bill, Jutila said, could jumpstart other long-delayed highway projects in Connecticut.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

  • Clifford W. Minyard

    It’s just like the door to door saleman, get you foot in the door. Nexts you bought the farm.

  • Steve

    this state is incredible. they continually try to figure out ways to get into our pockets. will they ever learn to say NO to the entitlement crowd? i, for one, have had it. i am actively looking to relocate out of this state. they have succeeded in pushing another family from their tax roles. good luck to you who remain. maybe someday the balance of power will shift in this state, but until there are major changes in the legislature…you’re going to keep reaching deeper and deeper.

    • joseph

      “If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.”

      -Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

      • newenglandsnob

        RIGHT ON, joseph ! I’m a big TP fan myself. I suspect that myself, like many others, would be beating feet out of this state if it weren’t for the unfortunate mortgage situation/housing market. I’m considered a great patriot to those who know me, but find myself looking at places outside the USA to go. Trouble is most are either so corrupt or so much more socialist than we are (at least for now) there aint noplace to go it seems ! Great comment.

  • Ron

    Not sure if you’ve been on Rte 11 in Salem? Really? Neither have I. The only people that will be paying the toll on Rte 11 will be the residents of Salem. These residents have been toll-less way too long and it is about time that the legislature recognize this. Salem residents need to be plugged into EZ Pass and charged as much as possible to pay for this highway to nowhere, err, I mean Salem.

    I hope this bill is continued to cover the expenses of finishing Rte 9 and extracting the much needed toll dollars of the residents of Weatogue.

  • Michael Chevian

    In fact CT should model itself after other states such as MD, DE, and NY. With limited port of entry tolls CT could generate millions in revenue every year. For example a entry toll somewhere along the first 5 miles of I-95 north would allow “locals” to divert to local roads to avoid tolls while still benefiting from he revenue. Adapting a truck only toll system such as is used in Rockland county(west of the Tappen Zee) would allow free passage of non-commercial traffic while imposing tolls on all commercial traffic, Just my opinion.

  • Lazybum

    How about a “pol” tax on any “pol” who votes for a tax increase of any kind. We can make it be the anticipated “contribution” of the average citizen upon whom their financial hi-jinx are directed. They should pay the ” tax increase contribution” every time they mention it, to help the “Chulderun”.

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