Governor Puts Pause on Tolls

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Tolls in Connecticut are off the table, at least for now,  Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday.

The governor had been pushing a transportation plan that included tolls on large commercial trucks in 12 different locations on six highways – Interstate 84, Interstate 91, Interstate 95, Interstate 395, Interstate 684 and Route 8 - to raise some of the revenue necessary for transportation infrastructure investments across the state.

However, Lamont said Wednesday that with both Republicans and Democrats hesitant to vote, he was pulling the toll model out of the equation and instead said they will make up the estimated $200 million in bonding.

“I hate to do it this way, it’s bonding in place of other things that are priorities but right now there’s no other option on the table,” Lamont said.

Lamont’s $19.4 billion infrastructure plan, called CT2030, is a 10-year plan aims to improve roads, bridges, airports, rail and bus service.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the state needs between $19 billion to $20 billion to fund the transportation plan. Democrats had been in support of the trucks-only tolls, while Republicans had been against any plan that included tolls, instead pushing to pull funding for the projects from the rainy day fund.

Lamont criticized both Democrats and Republicans, particularly in the Senate, for failing to make a decision to come to a vote.

“I’ve lost patience, we’re going to fix our transportation plan, and are ready to work with everybody who has a constructive alternative," he told reporters.

The governor said that the bill remains on lawmakers desks but he is no longer pushing it and the ball is in their court.

"I hope they can step up and make a tough vote later," he said.

Top Democrats said they were still confident they had the votes on the plan.

“In light of a potential unprecedented two-day, 30-hour-long debate, the Senate Democrats asked for five more days for our Senators to prepare and make necessary family arrangements. We are still confident that Senate Democrats have the votes to pass a comprehensive transportation plan which includes 12 toll gantries on 18-wheeler trucks only. We are prepared to hold a session next week to vote on a bill to make the necessary transportation investments for Connecticut’s economic development, residents, and businesses. We have worked with the House and the Governor’s office consistently over the past 10 months to finalize the transportation issue and have proposed numerous solutions over that time period. We remain committed to investing in Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure.” wrote Senate Pro Tem President Martin Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff in a joint statement.

"Over the past four weeks of trying to coordinate the scenario and date to pass a truck-only tolls transportation plan, it has become very clear that the political will to act was not there. I advised the governor that he needs to do what he has to do, and legislators will have to accept whatever plan he decides to go with now.  I have always believed a tolling plan that captures out-of-state vehicles was the right thing to do to help move our state forward and protect Connecticut taxpayers from paying the whole tab for our infrastructure needs. We were poised to act in the House tomorrow, but we need our colleagues in the Senate as well and apparently their ability to also act was tenuous," wrote Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz.

Republicans Sen. Len Fasano and Rep. Themis Klarides said they were pleased by the governor's announcement and hoped the bonding proposal was something that could lead to bipartisan discussions on transportation.

"Not sitting down and finding a meeting of the minds and a comprehensive bipartisan plan is I think what hurt this and I hope that there's a lesson to be learned from this," Klarides said.

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