To the Editors:
Given the current technology — both in the imposition of tolls (requiring no reduction in speed) and the payment (bills paid directly from debit/credit cards or bank accounts — no looking for a combination of coins or small bills), I’m astounded there is such opposition to the reestablishment of tolls in Connecticut.
Look no farther than neighboring states for tolled roads enjoying a lack of congestion, and in most cases, drivers don’t notice that a toll has been paid. This is a simple, fair, and effective way to level out our state’s budget and improve roads.
The citizens of Connecticut are effectively subsidizing the ease of people from neighboring and nearby states. How many thousands of travelers from New York, Pennsylvania, and points south drive the entirety of route 95 en route to Cape Cod or Maine? How many New Yorkers travel freely to casinos in New London County? How many people from Massachusetts take 91 & the Merritt Parkway to enjoy cultural or sporting events in New York City? And, what is the volume (and value) of interstate commerce on these highways?
Out-of-state motorists enjoy a free ride on Connecticut’s roadways. Due to our fortunate geography, people passing through have no choice but to take major roads across our state en route elsewhere. (And given our gas tax, most will wait to refuel until they are in Rhode Island or New Jersey — so we don’t even get the benefit of their fuel purchases).
In exchange for the traffic and pollution they create, anyone entering the state — including Connecticut residents — should accept a tariff. Most states in New England and the mid-Atlantic have some form of tolls on major highways — why has Connecticut chosen to be the exception?
The strongest protests may come from those who remember the old booths and the accompanying delays in traffic, fumbling for cash, and being stuck behind someone whose only ability to pay was a $50 bill. This no longer will be the case.
The other likely objection — citing the 1983 Stratford accident — should be disregarded as an outlier and an emotional argument with no basis behind it. The same year, a section of the Mianus River bridge collapsed (also on route 95) — has there since been an outpouring of anti-bridge sentiment in the state?
Our state is unquestionably having a budget crisis. The income tax introduced 26 years ago is never going away. Sales tax can only go so high before it becomes discriminatory to lower income brackets. Local taxes are spent by towns and schools before they are paid by citizens. In order to maintain our infrastructure (and ideally improve it), we have to be realistic about modern technology, the burden and emissions of non-residents, and the practices of neighboring states. Therefore we need to reinstate tolls — even if just a limited number and only at specific crossings — as soon as feasible.
Thank you for the consideration.
Broad Axe Lane, Jan. 26