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Byram Shops Say Tolls Beat Taxes

As far as Byram business owners such as Martha Burlin are concerned, the possibility of tolls in Greenwich is a good thing. "I don't think tolls would affect my business, I think they would help it," she said. "I would rather have tolls than higher taxes on dog grooming, nails and hair."

The state legislature's Transportation Committee recently held a hearing on four proposed bills that would create tolls on Interstate 95, Merritt Parkway and Interstate 84 — a proposal that has Greenwich officials worried about safety and congestion.

First Selectman Peter Tesei and Town Planner Diane Fox wrote a letter to the committee expressing their concerns about the establishment of tolls and the impact they would have on the Byram community. Tesei said his main issue was the traffic congestion in Byram, saying tolls would just add to it. Holly Malkasian Staudinger of Gifted Hands in Byram said, "I feel as if [Byram] is already a cut through for Westchester and Connecticut. I don't think tolls would affect the traffic pattern. The possible through-traffic could help businesses."

Connecticut stopped charging tolls on I-95 in 1985. The General Assembly abolished all tolls in the state three years later.

State Rep. Lile Gibbons, R-150th District, also wrote to the committee, saying tolls are inevitable and calling them a necessary evil. "We are the only state from Maine to Florida that has not installed an E-ZPass system to collect fees on its interstate highways and that time has come," said Gibbons.

An employee at East Port Chester Wine and Liquor said the state needs the money and said tolls are better than being taxed. Nora Dahn of Little Chocolate Shop agreed, saying tolls are safe elsewhere. "The way tolls are done now — if you have an E-ZPass, you don't even have to stop," said Burlin, owner of Professional Dog Grooming on Mill Street. "It's simple. E-ZPass should be everywhere, and it is the safest way."

Do you think tolls are a better way to put money back into the state? Why or why not? Leave a comment below or on Facebook !

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