Want to Come Into the State? Pay Up!

The head of the Connecticut House Transportation Committee wants to plug one of the holes in the state's leaky budget bucket with coins or tokens from drivers huffing it through Connecticut.

State Rep. Tony Guerrera (D-Rocky Hill) wants to start collecting tolls on Interstate 95, Interstate 91 and Interstate 84 at the borders with New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The goal is to collect more from out-of-state drivers.

"This is an economic development proposal," Guerrera said. "Funding from tolls would go to large-scale road and rail construction projects providing and injection of jobs and capital into our ailing economy."

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland currently have toll roads, he said.

While federal law generally prohibits roads receiving federal aid from having tolls, Congress has carved out a number of exceptions, he said.  Guerrera said there might be a way around losing federal funding.

A similar plan in Massachusetts has angered some.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed charging border tolls by dismantling the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and eliminating all tolls west of Route 128 except West Stockbridge – the last exit until New York - and Sturbridge – the last exit before Connecticut, the Berkshire Eagle reported Monday.

Town managers from the Western part of the state were none too pleased, the paper reported.

Earlier this month, consultants studying the possibility of reinstating tolls on some Connecticut highways warned that officials could face a tough battle from the public.  The consultant will unveil the results of its $1 million analysis next month.

The Transportation Strategy Board expects to review the report and make its recommendations this spring to the General Assembly and Gov. M. Jodi Rell.  Rell has said she opposes reinstating tolls.

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