The State Bond Commission has approved Gov. Dannel Malloy’s request for $10 million to finance a study of electronic tolling in Connecticut.The study will focus on electronic tolling on I-91, I-95 and I-84, as well as on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways. It will also try to determine how much tolls would cost in-state versus out-of-state drivers.
The commission voted 6-3 in favor of Malloy’s proposal, with Secretary of State Denise Nappier abstaining. In addition to Malloy, state budget director Ben Barnes, Deputy Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Toni M. Fatone, Attorney General George Jepsen, State Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, and State Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, voted in favor of the measure.
Voting against the proposal were State Rep. Chris Davis, R-Ellington, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, and State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, who said that by revisiting tolls, Malloy “has ignored the will of the legislature, and ultimately ignored the will of the Connecticut taxpayer.”
In announcing his proposal earlier this month, Malloy said he wanted the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) to:
- Prepare a comprehensive assessment for possible electronic tolling on I-95, I-91, I-84, the Wilbur Cross Parkway, the Merritt Parkway, and any other limited-access highways as determined by the DOT commissioner, which includes potential toll monitoring and specifies proposed toll charges;
- Explore potential ways to provide discounts, tax credits or other value-pricing options to Connecticut residents while ensuring out-of-state drivers contribute their fair share;
- Explore plans that could reduce motor vehicle fuel taxes; and
- Study the environmental impacts of electronic tolling systems.
“Without transforming the way the state funds its highways, we will be unable to pay for the large-scale construction and rehabilitation projects that our state needs to ensure continued safe travel while attracting businesses and growing our economy,” Malloy said at the time.
State Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, who blasted Malloy’s proposal shortly after it was made public, had a similar reaction to its approval.
“If you listen to Gov. Malloy, you would think that while the state has a short-term transportation solution, we have absolutely no options for the long term besides tolls. This is fundamentally false,” Fasano said.
The senator said that a portion of the Republican “Prioritize Progress” plan that was included in the bipartisan budget passed earlier this year has resulted in Connecticut now having “$100 million more annually for transportation in each of the next two years. Prioritize Progress has increased transportation funding in Connecticut to $1 billion annually – more than ever before.
“We did this without raising any taxes or establishing tolls,” Fasano added.