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Opinion: Would tolls offer relief from highway congestion?

Terry Cowgill
Terry Cowgill

Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is news editor of The Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.

Advocates of bringing tolls back to Connecticut’s major highways think they’ve found a better way to approach the problem. And with so-called congestion pricing, they just might be right.

In the last few weeks, talk of congestion pricing to address rush-hour bottlenecks has been all the rage in Connecticut, with transportation officials from Florida, Washington, and California traveling to Hartford and Bridgeport to speak at panel forums about how such methods could not only raise revenues but relieve crowding on the state’s busiest highways during rush hour.

And some of those same officials appeared last week on WNPR’s Where We Live to make the same pitch. They agreed reinstating tolls would be a tough sell considering the state’s history.

State residents who are old enough to remember were horrified at the fiery tractor-trailer crash in 1983 that killed seven people at the Stratford toll plaza on the Connecticut Turnpike. That grisly accident, coupled with complicated formulas for federal highway funds the state received for the reconstruction of the collapsed Mianus River Bridge six months later, put considerable pressure on the state to abolish road tolls, which it did during the O’Neill administration two years after Stratford. At the time, the closing of the toll booths on I-95, the Wilbur Cross and Merritt parkways, and the Charter Oak Bridge cost the state $65 million a year in lost revenue.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

Comments

2 responses to “Opinion: Would tolls offer relief from highway congestion?”

  1. One and Done

    Let’s stop beating around the bush and confiscate 100% of income and wealth. That will make CT competitive for the 21st century.

  2. Casey Smith

    “how such methods could not only raise revenues but relieve crowding on the state’s busiest highways during rush hour.”
    .
    Lately the rush hour has extended from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I’m frequently driving from Norwalk to either Route 8 or 91-North for business. There was a time when if you left Norwalk after 3:30 going north, expect slow or bumper to bumper traffic. A week or so ago, I got on at 16 heading north at 2:30 and it took me to almost 3:30 just to get to Bridgeport.
    .
    So, now the proposal is to tax us even more when we are just trying to earn a living? I seem to remember an economics professor I once had say, “You can’t tax people into prosperity.” If the State wants increased revenue, they just might want to think about allowing businesses to actually grow rather than saddling down all of the Connecticut residents with another tax in the form of tolls.
    .
    We’ve already got a State gas tax for highway improvement and now there’s talk about increasing the Federal portion to .12¢ a gallon because it hasn’t been raised in a number of years. Speaking of raises, I’ve not gotten one since at least 2008.

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