HARTFORD, CT — Democratic lawmakers were expected to finish drafting the 10-year, $19-billion transportation plan Friday before sending it for a public hearing next week.
Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, said they hope to bring it to a public hearing next week and then for a vote before the 2020 session starts on Feb. 5.
Lemar said they plan on having a hearing since the truck-only toll proposal has not previously been discussed at great length.
“It is substantially different than what we’ve considered in the past,” Lemar said.
He also defended the idea of constructing truck-only tolls.
“Every other state on the eastern seaboard has a tolling system of some kind,” Lemar said Friday at the Legislative Office Building. “And they are investing money into their roads and bridges, their transit and their buses. Connecticut has not been able to make that same commitment because we haven’t had tolls.”
He said the heavy trucks need to pay for the damage they are causing to the roads.
The proposal is expected to include 12 electronic toll gantries on bridges. The toll revenue collected would be used to pay back low-interest loans from the federal government over the next 35 years.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said they still haven’t decided whether the legislation will start in the House or the Senate.
He said they haven’t decided whether next Friday would be the day for the public hearing. A public hearing must be held at least five days after a bill is introduced.
The format of the public hearing has also not been decided.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, called on his Democratic colleagues to release the legislation and the associated revenue estimates.
Earlier this week, Gov. Ned Lamont said they have “really good numbers on the number of trucks that go through,” the state of Connecticut.
“Governor Lamont claims he has exact numbers, but to this day the public, the press and rank and file lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have never seen them,” Fasano said. “Why hide the numbers? Even if a bill is released to the public in the coming days, we still need the backup data to understand if and how the numbers add up and if the proposal will actually generate the revenue Gov. Lamont claims it will.”
Previous versions of the legislation have estimated between $150 million to $175 million in toll revenue from heavy tractor trailer trucks. It’s unclear what rate the state would need to charge in order to raise that amount, but officials have maintained it would be a much lower rate than surrounding states.