Tolls Would Mean infrastructure Cash For Host Communities
CT Post, November 14, 2019
By Ken Dixon
If Gov. Ned Lamont can get his 14-toll plan adopted by the General Assembly, Waterbury’s share of revenue would be the most of any host community, estimated at about $1.9 million a year for the city to invest in local infrastructure projects.
Greenwich’s piece of the action for a proposed toll on the bridge over the Byram River on Interstate 684, in a corner of town hardly driven on by its residents, would be $353,751 per year.
Those projected revenues under Lamont’s CT2030 program are expected to make the governor’s proposed massive, 10-year, $21 billion infrastructure plan at least a little more palatable. Towns and cities would receive 5 percent of the revenues from tolls they host.
Stamford’s share of revenues for local infrastructure would be about $1.64 million a year for tolling the I-95 bridge over the Metro-North tracks.
The proposed toll on the Merritt Parkway at Route 7 in Norwalk would generate about $740,000 a year for the city.
Westport would reap about $1.5 million a year if the I-95 bridge over Route. 33 on the west bank of the Saugatuck River becomes a toll location. West Haven would collect $1.5 million of its own for hosting toll gantries along an I-95 bridge over the Metro-North line.
Tolls on the Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River along I-84 in Newtown and Southbury would generate more than $415,000 for local infrastructure in those towns, Lamont’s administration said Friday.
Middletown would receive more than $882,000 a year for hosting a toll on Route 9 that spans Route 17.
“Providing additional funds to cities and towns that are hosting user fees is a recognition that CT2030 is a plan designed to have a positive impact on all economies, large and small, in the state of Connecticut,” said Max Reiss, communications director for Lamont.
“In order for CT2030 to be successful, we must ensure that all of our cities and towns are successful and Gov. Lamont believes one of the ways to help accelerate growth is through providing support to municipalities hosting user fees,” Reiss said Friday. “Then, cities and towns can make the investments in their own infrastructure that they know are right for their communities.”
The additional funding would supplement the state’s current annual contributions for town road aid from the state budget.
Stamford Mayor David Martin, in a Twitter posting on Friday, had mixed emotions. “Like many residents in Stamford I don’t like paying tolls, but I applaud the governor’s courageous commitment to fixing our transportation infrastructure while being financially responsible,” Martin, like Lamont a Democrat, wrote. “We all have to face the tough choices and cannot keep kicking the can down the road.”
Greater revenue sharing needed back to top
Kevin T. Maloney, director of communications and member relations for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said Friday that the state’s towns and cities welcome any additional help that might become available.
“This proposal reflects CCM’s ongoing effort for greater revenue sharing and diversification any time new state funding is available to towns to help decrease the dependency on property taxes for residents and businesses,” Maloney said. “We trust that if tolls are approved, municipal leaders can actually depend upon these funds coming back to towns year in and year out. Local governments need additional, dependable revenue streams as they seek to best manage their town’s revenues and expenses over time.”
Tolls would cost 50 cents to a dollar, with 20 percent discounts for drivers with Connecticut transponders in their windshields. Trucks would pay $7. Drivers would not pay more than once a day for round trips. Federal funding formulas under competitive programs require dedicated revenue streams, so Lamont’s plan to revive Connecticut highways, rail and bus lines necessitates tolling, a large fraction of which would come from out-of-state drivers.
In rolling out his latest attempt to persuade the balky General Assembly on highway tolls, Lamont on Thursday suggested that for tolls bridging by two communities, such as the Gold Star bridge over the Thames River, linking New London and Groton, the municipalities would share revenue, projected at more than $1 million a year.
Since the lateness of the year most likely precludes the issue reaching the General Assembly in a special session, it is likely to become a major focus of the 2020 legislature, which begins its work in February.
East Hartford and Hartford would share more than $880,000 from the Charter Oak Bridge over the Connecticut River.
Waterbury is line for a larger amount than other towns because of the so-called mixmaster, where Route 8 meets I-84 in a cloverleaf of sharply turning ramps. The toll there would mean $1.4 million a year for Waterbury, while another toll south of I-84 on Route 8 would provide the city with an additional $491,000 a year, under the CT2030 plan.
Tolls on I-95 in East Lyme, over Route 161, would provide $1.3 million a year for that town. Plainfield in eastern Connecticut would get nearly $323,000 a year for a toll site along I-395 over the Moosup River.
Rounding out the 14 toll sites would be a gantry setup on I-84 in West Hartford over Berkshire Road, which would generate $1.18 million a year for that town.