January 3, 2019

CT's toll-wary truckers tally their economic benefits

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
PHOTO | Contributed
An electronic tolling gantry.

Connecticut's trucking industry delivers some $3.2 billion in pay to its workers annually, and that's just the tip of the iceberg in calculating the sector's financial and other contributions to the communities it serves, fresh data shows.

Connecticut's 58,400 trucking jobs annually earn an average of $54,350 per worker, says the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Based in Arlington, Va., ATRI jointly released its data Thursday via the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) in Hartford.

"These numbers prove once again what the hard-working men and women in the industry already know; the trucking industry provides good-paying jobs and great career opportunities," MTAC President Joe Sculley said in a statement.

"Our employees also know that the trucking industry is the backbone of the economy," he said.

The ATRI data comes amid growing concerns among Connecticut's truckers about the potential for state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to seriously weigh tolling state highways to fund road maintenance and other transportation infrastructure.

A transportation working group formed by Gov.-elect Ned Lamont recently recommended a broad tolling policy that would include all vehicles. However, the policy would conflict with Lamont's campaign promise to start by only tolling tractor-trailer trucks, which has raised the ire of the trucking industry.

The policy recommendation came after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) in November released a study that said installing 82 tolling gantries for all vehicles across Connecticut could raise nearly $1 billion a year in revenue by 2023.

Sculley pointed to ATRI data that show 94 percent of total manufactured tonnage is trucked in this state, and that 86 percent of Connecticut communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods.

"What this means is that essentially everything we buy was on a truck at some point,'' he said. "Policymakers should keep this in mind when crafting legislation that impacts the trucking industry. The effects will be felt by all consumers – their constituents."

The ATRI data also highlights taxes paid by the industry. A typical five-axle tractor- semitrailer combination pays more than $17,500 in combined state and federal road taxes each year.

"Let there be no doubt that our industry pays its fair share of road taxes," Sculley said. "In fact, we are paying more than six times our fair share. The industry pays 32 percent of all road taxes, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of miles traveled in the state."

Sculley also repeated MTAC's assertion that out-of-state trucks do not travel through Connecticut tax free. It collects about $25 million to $30 million in taxes/fees from out-of-state trucks annually, because of the state's participation in the International Fuel Tax Agreement and the International Registration Plan.

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