The legislature's transportation committee held a public hearing Friday on whether to bring tolls back to the state's highways. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the committee that the state needs to start thinking of ways to bring in more money to help balance its budget. He says one way to do that is with highway tolls at the state's borders.
“The people who travel that New York Boston corridor are continuously getting a free ride. We do not have a problem as individuals paying tolls on the Mass turnpike or the NY State Thruway. Or even when we go to the airports in New York. But yet we’re giving people a free ride through this state. I think it’s time to end that and I think it’s time to address the revenue in this state.”
Marconi is a Democrat running for governor and says it's time to start the tolls discussion. Committee Chairman Antonio Guerrera agrees, and he thinks the money could be used to improve the state’s infrastructure.
“When we’re long gone form this place, at least we can say we put something in place, our bridges are one of the best in the nation, and our roads are one of the best in the nation.”
State Rep. Steve Mikutel doesn’t like the idea, says the state won’t be able to raise the revenue without wasting it later, and says tolls would be unfair to people who live near the border -- because their residents would pay more in tolls, and because their towns would see more traffic.
“When you take them off the interstate highway and put them on secondary roads where there’s stop and go traffic and more intersections you’re going to have more accidents.”
Gov. Jodi Rell has long opposed highway tolls and the Department of Transporation says the state could run the risk of losing federal highway money if tolls are implemented.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.