Courtesy of Sacred Heart University

HARTFORD, CT — A Sacred Heart University poll of 1,004 Connecticut residents found 59 percent oppose electronic highway tolls and 54.5 percent would seek a route around electronic highway tolls if they are installed.

Only 34.7 percent of residents surveyed supported the idea of tolls in a survey released Monday afternoon.

Another 36.2 percent of residents were “more likely” to support tolls if the state guaranteed that the funds would be used on road, bridges, and highway improvements. Another 15.1 percent support tolls regardless of where the funds are going.

The poll conducted by GreatBlue between Feb. 13 and March 4 was touted by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration as welcome news.

“The majority of Connecticut residents — over 50 percent — likely support tolling when they learn that the funds generated will be subject to protections, such as the state transportation lockbox, as approved by Connecticut voters, as well as federal law that mandates use on transportation infrastructure only,” Colleen Flanagan Johnson, Lamont’s senior adviser, said. “Today’s poll underscores Connecticut’s need to move forward with a sustainable, reliable and protected revenue source — 40 percent of which will be paid for by people who don’t even live in our state — to make the upgrades and enhancements necessary to support Connecticut’s economic growth.”

The Sacred Heart University poll found that while 39.8 percent of residents believe the expected revenue of $1 billion would be worth a $100 million investment by the state to implement “e-tolling,” 38.5 percent did not believe “e-tolling” was worth such an investment.

The poll numbers on tolls are similar to what they have been historically in Connecticut.

In a March 2013, Quinnipiac University poll found 58 percent of Connecticut voters opposed highway tolls and only 39 percent supported them. It also found that 57 percent of voters support tolls if the proceeds are used to repair the roads and bridges. A March 2015 Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent of Connecticut voters opposed tolls, but 59 percent would support them if the money was used on roads and bridges.

An August 2018 Quinnipiac University poll found 53 percent of voters oppose tolls.

A Sacred Heart University poll conducted in September 2018 found 52.2 percent of voters agreed with the statement: “Electronic highway tolls that collect significant money from out-of-state motorists and interstate trucks as well as from Connecticut residents would be an effective way to help pay for highway improvements to relieve congestion.” The 52.2 percent support was a slight increase over the 49.8 percent in its August 2018 poll.

It’s a drop from an October 2017 Sacred Heart poll that found 55.6 percent of residents support “instituting tolls on Connecticut’s highways.”

A January 2018 poll conducted by AAA Allied and AAA Northeast found 47 percent of Connecticut residents support tolls.

Opposition to tolls in Connecticut seems to hover around 50 percent, but that hasn’t seemed to phase Lamont, who changed his position on tolls last month before his budget address.

On the campaign trail Lamont had promised only to toll trucks, but put forward an option to toll all motor vehicles as part of his budget proposal.

It’s a decision he’s been defending ever since mid-February.

Connecticut’s toll booths were removed in 1983 after a deadly crash. But debate about whether to resurrect them as electronic gantries has been a topic for discussion in recent years as vehicles become more fuel efficient or completely electric. The state’s transportation infrastructure is largely funded with money from the gasoline taxes.