The wrangling over highway tolls is continuing, with state Republican lawmakers introducing a five-step transportation improvement strategy that they say will: fix Connecticut’s roads, bridges and rail; drive economic development; increase jobs; and improve quality of life.The five major elements of the plan are: Immediately invest in infrastructure; identify needs and eliminate waste; develop a long-term strategy and seek efficiencies; establish public/private partnerships; and identify Connecticut’s five worst bridges, with an eye toward replacing them.
The infrastructure investing component involves dedicating $375 million in General Obligation bonding to transportation annually for the next five years. When added to current federal funding and maintaining current Special Tax Obligation bonds, the GOP said, the result would be approximately $1.9 billion in annual transportation funding.
State Republicans have continuously rejected Gov. Ned Lamont and fellow Democrats’ support for bringing tolls back to the state, maintaining that such an act is simply another “tax” on residents, in favor of increased bonding.
“We all agree that Connecticut cannot wait to fix our transportation system any longer,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said. “No one has advocated for immediate action more vehemently than Republicans, but we don’t believe tolls are the answer. While some Democrats believe tolls may be a possible solution, perhaps they will consider this as a more layered solution to a complex problem. Connecticut residents are troubled by tolls. We encourage all lawmakers to review this detailed bill, ask us questions, and rally together to do what is best for Connecticut. Let’s get this done.”
“This proposal includes bipartisan ideas that have been discussed throughout the legislative session to better define the state’s transportation needs, find efficiencies and develop a long-term plan and vision,” House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said.
The governor derided the Republican plan.
“Today they came out with what they call a long-term plan,” Lamont said. “It said, ‘Let’s do a little more borrowing and then wait and see, let’s do a little more borrowing and study this, let’s do more borrowing and maybe talk to transportation and see what our needs are, prioritize the bridges.’ This is why people are so cynical.”