HARTFORD, CT — The Yankee Institute placed 72 cardboard trolls on the front lawn of the state Capitol Tuesday to raise public awareness about the potential number of electronic toll gantries that could be installed on Connecticut’s highways.
“We’re here to say not one cent more on the people of Connecticut,” Yankee Institute President Carol Platt Liebau said.
Rep. Antonio Guerrera, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, crashed the press conference to say that there’s no proposal to install 72 toll gantries.
“I understand that it’s an inconvenient truth,” Platt Liebau said. “Especially now that the taxpayers of Connecticut have said they don’t want to be taxed simply because they’re driving to work.”
She said the number came from the 2015 CDM Smith report for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
“It would make Connecticut the most tolled state in the country,” she added.
Guerrera said the legislation that passed the committee would require the Transportation Commissioner to study where the tolls should be placed on Interstates 84, 91, and 95, in addition to the Merritt Parkway and the Wilbur Cross.
It also asks the commissioner to look at how much the state should charge and what tax credits can be given to Connecticut residents.
The proposal may have another round of legislative approvals or it will be deemed approved 30 days after the start of the next legislative session.
Guerrera said after that if tolls are eventually approved then they have to come back and lower the gas tax by 5 cents.
Platt Liebau said Connecticut’s gas tax is the sixth highest in the county. And while she would like to see it lowered, she’s doubtful it would happen.
Guerrera said if tolls isn’t the answer than they need to come up with a way to pay for Connecticut’s crumbling infrastructure.
“How do we pay for it?” Guerrera said.
Platt Liebau said they can’t throw good money after bad. They have to come up with a better plan.
“It’s time for the politicians of Connecticut before they demand one cent more of our money to start getting at the structural costs that make Connecticut the sixth highest gas tax and the highest administrative cost per mile to build highways,” Platt Liebau said.