There are several proposals before the Transportation Committee in the State Legislature to re-establish tolls on Connecticut highways. They were a common sight in the state until a tractor-trailer slammed into cars waiting to pay a toll on Route 95 in Stratford.
The accident was horrific news reports of the day recalled the words of state police Sgt. Harold DeSanty, “The six people were incinerated”. Their remains had to be taken to Farmington Medical Center for positive identification through dental records.
The immediate reaction in the State Legislature was a burst of emotional outrage much like we have seen recently in response to the tragedy in Sandy Hook. Suddenly, we were told there was no economic need for tolls on Connecticut roads and the lives of all citizens were at risk if they were not removed.
Now thirty years later we are seriously considering re-establishing tolls as a source of funding for maintenance of infrastructure. This entire episode points out so many flaws in political thinking it is hard to include all that is wrong.
Wrong is the idea that every tragedy requires some kind of government action, some headline grabbing emotional reaction to address the actions of a single situation or person. Yes, Connecticut took down all tolls in 1983. Have you all read about the continued carnage in Massachusetts as the death toll piles high at toll booths along the Mass. Pike? I didn’t think so.
Taking down the tolls may not have been a bad idea but using a tragedy as the reason was merely political opportunism. A tragedy even of horrific proportions used for politics is opportunistic and wrong.
Putting tolls up can be a good idea as is the case with HB 6052, a proposal for tolls to finance the completion of Route 11. This is a long stalled project that would now be completed and the tolls would be removed after paying for the completion.
Such is not the case for HB-6050 and others designed to re-establish toll roads in Connecticut. HB-6050 provides for “Gateway Tolls” on major highways along state borders. These are inequitable and unfair to many Connecticut taxpayers.
Take for example an Enfield resident that happens to work in nearby Springfield. They could be paying $5.00 daily to commute only 5 miles to go to work. ($1250 annually) While a person driving from Willimantic to Hartford could drive 40 miles on Connecticut roads daily and pay nothing.
Suddenly all the political rhetoric of 30 years ago is forgotten or debunked as irrelevant and out of date and we have a new crop of politicians twisting the facts for fundraising. Like most taxes tolls are only likely to go upward once they are in place. Just as any trucker about his toll to cross the George Washington Bridge when he drives from New Jersey to Connecticut, and get ready for a rant when he tells you it is now $105!
Our local police will tell you to lock your car at night to protect your selves from petty thieves. I am warning you now the thieves looking for the petty cash in your car are in Hartford sitting in the legislature. Legislators already took the money that was supposed to be for roads and used it for other things, now they want more.
Tell your legislator, NO TO THE TOLLS!