Special Session Highway Tolls Vote Canceled
State lawmakers have canceled a special session vote on legislation implementing highway tolls on large commercial trucks.
The vote was planned for either Feb. 3 or Feb. 4, prior to the regular legislative session that begins Feb. 5.
A vote on the bill Senate Democrats released earlier this week detailing a dozen toll locations is now planned for the week of Feb. 10.
Democrats released the bill after Gov. Ned Lamont announced a $1.7 billion bond program for this fiscal year.
The bond deal, which exceeds the governor’s self-imposed “debt diet” cap by $300 million, represents a compromise between the administration and legislative Democrats.
The governor had delayed the bond program pending an agreement with legislators on highway tolls.
Based on the draft bill, tolls on commercial trucks with a class 8 or higher rating range from $6 to $13, with discounts for Connecticut E-ZPass holders.
Truckers could pay anywhere from $30 to $65 for a one-way trip along I-95 in Connecticut.
The Lamont administration expects the measure will generate about $180 million per year in revenue for the Special Transportation Fund.
The plan also calls for the creation of a Transportation Policy Council with the power to change toll rates by the rate of inflation or construction cost index.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 1 pm Friday, Jan. 31 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Toll gantries are planned for the following locations:
- I-84 at the Rochambeau Bridge between Newtown and Southbury
- I-84 in Waterbury near the Route 8 junction
- I-84 over Berkshire Road in West Hartford
- I-91 and Route 15 at the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford and East Hartford
- I-95 over Metro-North in Stamford
- I-95 over Route 33 in Westport
- I-95 over Metro-North in West Haven
- I-95 over Route 161 in East Lyme
- I-95 over the Thames River in New London and Groton
- I-395 over the Moosup River in Plainfield
- I-684 over the Byram River in Greenwich
- Route 8, south of the interchange with I-84 in Waterbury
The legislation includes provisions designed to block the imposition of tolls on smaller trucks and cars.
Based on the draft bill language, bonds issued through mid-2002 for transportation projects must be paid off—likely by the late 2040s or early 2050s—before tolls could be expanded to cars.
While the bonds are outstanding, tolls could only be expanded under certain circumstances—including an emergency declared by the governor—and would require a three-fifths vote of the state Senate and House.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) says the bill has “a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon.”
“After two years, we could very well see cars and all trucks tolled in Connecticut without the fear of a bond covenant stopping it,” Fasano told reporters.
Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said legislative Democrats “have no intention” of expanding tolls to cars.
“There is broad-based opposition to passenger tolls,” he said. “I see that continuing.
“That’s not what this plan is and that’s not what this plan speculates and we have no intention of going to that point.”
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