Electronic highway tolls may be a hot button issue in the gubernatorial race this year, but the legislature’s Transportation Committee was lukewarm to the idea Monday when it voted to continue studying the issue.
For the second year in a row, the legislature’s Transportation Committee passed on the controversial issue and instead instructed the Department of Transportation to study the issue and get back to them with a recommendation sometime in 2011.
The legislature spent more than $1 million last year to have the Transportation Strategy Board hire a consultant to look at the issue of electronic tolls on Connecticut highways.
Rep. Anthony Guerrera, co-chairman of the committee, said in a phone interview Tuesday morning that it may be a study, but he hopes it will finally start moving the issue forward.
“We asked the department to give us some alternatives,” Guerrera said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they need to do a new study.”
He said they can give the legislature a report based on the previous data compiled in the Cambridge Systematics study on congestion pricing and electronic tolls.
For years, Guerrera has warned that the gross receipts tax on gasoline, which is supposed to help fund transportation improvements, will continue to fall short of its expectations as consumers move toward more fuel efficient vehicles.
The other problem is that the legislature can’t seem to keep its hands off the transportation funds, which often end up getting shifted to the General Fund for operating expenses and other programs.
“I said this before that we need some type of constitutional amendment so that money stays in place,” Guerrera said. The state’s transportation infrastructure is in poor condition and “we need a lock box.”
The bill passed by the committee Monday by a vote of 19-17.