DANBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – Governor Malloy is continuing to drum up support for his plan to revamp the state’s entire transportation system. His big picture approach includes widening the interstates, and adding more train lines and buses. But the big question is how does he pay for it?
Many lawmakers are lining up in favor of the big plans, but not for one of the suggested ways to fund it. There is talk more and more talk about something called Gateway Tolls, but lawmakers near those gateways say not so fast.
Danbury was latest stop on the Governor’s transportation road show tour. He proclaimed part of his big transportation system revamp would include widening I-84 there, where it is only two lanes and becomes a daily bottleneck during commuting hours. The big idea to pay for all this that’s getting traction at the Capitol is Gateway Tolls.
“My policy is that we put border tolls,” said State Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, the chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. “As I’ve been stating, you do that and within a 20 to 25 year period you’re talking almost $50 billion.”
Guerrera says that by placing tolls at the state borders along the interstates, Connecticut would capture revenue from thousands of drivers from other states.
“I’m not surprised that you’re focused on tolls, but actually everybody’s focused on tolls,” said Gov. Malloy. “They’re focused on, you know what this is, it’s representative of the fact people want a transportation system that works.”
The Governor won’t say if he’ll endorse new tolls to pay for his big plans, and he won’t rule it out, but lawmakers from the border towns are lining up against it.
“Tolls, I think, are an unfair regional tax,” said State Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury.
“The folks in my part of the state, my constituents and others around us, are absolutely dead set against this,” said State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton.
There is dispute about how much the tolls would actually raise.
“Past estimates I’ve seen of what tolls on 95 and the other interstates would give us are somewhere between $60 and $80 million a year,” said Lavielle. “That’s not even a dent.”
“Representative Guerrera and I have talked about this a lot and I suggest to him if he wants Gateway Tolls he probably ought to put them around the State Capitol,” said McLachlan humorously.