January 31, 2018

Malloy calls for tolls, gas tax hike, tire fees

Flickr Creative Commons | Doug Kerr
Flickr Creative Commons | Doug Kerr
The Merritt Parkway would be one of a number of routes tolled under Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposal.

As expected, Gov. Dannel Malloy is going big on transportation funding.

With an Election Year legislative session a week away, the lame-duck governor on Wednesday morning called on lawmakers to implement electronic tolling on major highways, interstates and routes across Connecticut.

Malloy said Connecticut's transportation investment has fallen further behind competing states like Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, and that additional funding is needed to ensure a competitive economy.

"We stand at a crossroads here in Connecticut," Malloy said. "We need to make a decision and we need to do it soon, and quite frankly this year."

With the Special Transportation Fund headed toward insolvency, Malloy did not stop at tolls.

He is also calling for a 7 cent increase in the state's 25-cent gas tax (higher than the 4-cent hike that Rep. Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford) has said he will push) over the next four years; a $3 fee on each tire sold in the state; and a faster diversion of new car sales tax revenues to the STF than is currently authorized by the legislature.

Republicans have argued that Malloy's 30-year transportation infrastructure plan is too costly and that more study is needed of exactly how much revenue tolls would raise (state officials are currently estimating somewhere between $600 million and $800 million a year, an estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of which would come from out-of-state drivers).

But Malloy brushed aside those criticisms on Wednesday, saying the state has enough information to move forward and could copy what has worked best in other states.

"The idea that tolling is some kind of mystery or magic is utterly and fantastically ridiculous," Malloy said.

Republicans have also raised concerns that federal transportation funding to Connecticut could decline if the state implements tolls.

The governor was joined at a press conference by construction industry representatives and supportive lawmakers, such as Transportation Committee co-chair Rep. Antonio Guerrera, who on Monday reiterated his previous call for road tolls.

The exact locations of electronic tolling gantries, or how many there might be is not yet clear. Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said a design plan does not yet exist.

Malloy said he would like to see tolls on interstates and routes like the Wilbur Cross Highway and the Merritt Parkway.

Connecticut would have to treat its tolls differently than Massachusetts, because of differences in geography and roadways, he said.

"We have very available and more frequent entrances and exits," he said. "We have to look at a system that probably has more catchment area because people will be getting on and off."

Free E-Newsletters

Sign up now for our daily and weekly
e-newsletters! Click Here

Today's Poll Should Connecticut have electronic tolls?<>
Most Popular on Facebook
Copyright 2017 New England Business Media