FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Tolls may return to Connecticut's highways – including Interstates 95 and 84 in Fairfield County near the New York border – after several bills were discussed Monday at the Joint Committee on Transportation in Hartford.
Four proposed bills would establish tolls at the state's borders, increase state revenue and possibly reduce state taxes, state legislators say.
Tolls were removed from state highways in 1985 after six people, including several children, died in a toll-booth crash in 1983 in Stratford. The debate to replace them has continued ever since.
A family member of one of the children killed in that crash gave emotional testimony Monday morning at the public hearing on why toll booths should not be put back on the highways, said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.
Reintroducing toll booths to the state would bring several problems, said Boucher, who also represents New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston and Westport. There are no concrete figures on how much the state would earn from the toll booths.
“That’s the big question mark,” she said. Some predict $100 million to $400 million in revenue could be raised, she said.
Another concern raised by those in the public hearing was where the money would go. The General Assembly has a history of using the Transportation General Fund as a way to balance the budget, Boucher said. Any money earned from a toll would need to stay in transportation, she said.
The addition of the tolls could also decrease the gas tax, which Boucher says is the highest in the country.
The Daily Voice reached out to ask readers how they felt about adding tolls to the state highways.
“We didn't have a state income tax when we used to have the tolls. I knew the minute we lost that revenue they'd have to make it up elsewhere. I'd love to see the tolls come back if it meant we could go back to no state income tax,” Cathy Bandoian posted on The Ridgefield Daily Voice Facebook page.
On The Norwalk Daily Voice, several readers said they didn’t care about the cost, but even more said they were concerned about the extra traffic toll booths would cause.
“Don't care about the extra cost, but I do care about the extra TRAFFIC that tolls would cause!!!!” Brinley Ford Ehlers posted.
“Don't care about the extra cost, either. As long as the money stays ON THE ROAD!!! Not into any other General Fund that's discretionary. Nowhere else,” Louis Imperato posted.