Governor Ned Lamont's proposed state budget features two options for highway tolls to fund much-needed transportation infrastructure repairs that he said can help boost economic growth.
Lamont told legislators Feb. 2o "I can't fix Connecticut's economy" without addressing the state's transportation infrastructure.
"We must bring our transportation system into the 21st century, too—by speeding up our highways and rail service, which are a critical to long-term economic growth and opportunity," he said.
During his election campaign, Lamont favored truck-only tolls, an option that could raise between $45-$200 million annually but one the governor said limits revenues and is dependent on a court ruling.
He said his support for tolling all vehicles, which could generate an estimated $800 million in net revenue annually, relied on Connecticut drivers receiving discounts.
Lamont said out-of-state drivers would provide more than 40% of tolling revenue in Connecticut.
"We foot the bill when we travel through neighboring states," he said. "It's time out-of-state drivers help foot the bill for fixing our roads and bridges."
Operational by 2025
State budget chief Melissa McCaw told legislators the all-vehicle option could be fully operational by 2025, with 53 toll gantries on I-95, I-91, I-84, and Route 15.
All toll revenues would be dedicated to the state's Special Transportation Fund. Lamont also suggested the gasoline tax could be reduced if tolls were implemented.
Connecticut's gas tax helped fund state transportation needs but it no longer provides reliable revenue due in part to vehicles with better fuel efficiency.
Lamont said he's "open to a real discussion" with lawmakers and residents on the state's transportation needs "not only to make repairs but to truly put Connecticut in a position of strength when it comes to infrastructure upgrades and bold economic visioning."
Bills supporting tolls were raised during the 2018 session but failed.