Governor Ned Lamont made improving the state’s transportation infrastructure one of the focal points of his address to lawmakers and the state on Wednesday.
He formally laid out two options for toll collection, one for trucks only, and the other for collection of tolls from all vehicles.
Lamont said the state can only see its economy grow if people are able to navigate the state faster and more efficiently.
“I know this idea of tolling feels like one more damn tax I’m going to have to pay,” Lamont said during his half-hour speech to the General Assembly. “And I cannot fix this state unless I fix our transportation system.”
The truck only proposal, upon which Lamont campaigned, his administration estimates would be collecting revenue at some point over the next 20 years, and would bring in up $200 million in revenue through collection at up to 100 sites.
The all vehicle option would be up and running by 2025, include 53 gantries, and bring in a projected $800 million in revenue for the state.
He slapped down a years-old GOP proposal for transportation investment, that the minority party has been pushing for years, which would see the state borrow $65 billion over thirty years to pay for transportation projects. The plan would not include tolls, but would instead provide existing taxpayers with the bill.
“After 40 years of underinvesting in our transportation system, we cannot borrow our way out of this mess,” Lamont said.
Minority Leader Themis Klarides in the Connecticut House, says the Lamont plan is irresponsible.
“Telling people that they have to pay tolls every five minutes they turn on the road is the fiscally irresponsible way to do this,” she said.
Top Democrats in the General Assembly have already announced their preference for a wide-scale toll proposal, and they welcome the governor viewing the issue as a priority.
“If he modulated a little bit, you can blame me because I was not budging off of it,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, (D – Berlin). “You can see our neighboring states New York and Massachusetts with their economies. A lot of their infrastructure improvements were made 40 years ago when we were lacking.”
Aresimowicz says the days of drivers from other states driving through Connecticut for free need to come to an end.
“Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Canada. Right down the line will get a free pass through Connecticut. So we’ll just say Connecticut, pay for everyone else’s highways, but you foot the bill for your own? It sounds a little ridiculous.”