Border Tolls Under Consideration

If tolls are going to make a comeback, this is the right climate for them to do so. Support for tolls in the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee seems high, and the co-chairmen of the committee agree that it’s just a matter of time before tolls return.

Worryingly, it looks like one form of tolling that’s gaining a lot of traction is the idea of border tolls at interstate crossings into New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This plan is likely to run into fierce opposition from border towns and commuters.

Let’s face it, Connecticut is a small state, and we have a lot of commuters who travel to other states to work. I am one of them, and unsurprisingly the idea of a toll booth blocking my ten-mile commute to work isn’t one I’m particularly fond of. But there are other problems to consider. Enfield’s commercial district draws a lot of shoppers from western Massachusetts. How many of those would go elsewhere rather than pay the toll? And what would happen to the very few other border crossings between Enfield and Longmeadow? I imagine they’d be choked with cars trying to get around the toll. Those roads, especially in upscale Longmeadow, are not built for that kind of traffic.

Other border towns are likely to make similar arguments. This issue is likely to be one of the most contentious this session.

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18 responses to “Border Tolls Under Consideration

  1. We can have tolls, with no toll booths.

    Seeing as the we’ve made sure no one’s going to be coming to CT to buy gas, diesel fuel, booze, tobacco products or much of anything else; we might as well bang out of state drivers for something.

    Having the enabling legislation include some sort of an annual automobile pass (along the lines of what we used to have for the Merritt; but now electronic) would safely protect regular commuters.

    The Mass Pike costs around 10 – 11 bucks from the NY line to I-495; there’s no reason for Connecticut cost less.

  2. This is completely wrong.
    The idea is to have a GPS device within yor emissions sticker. So you will be charged whenever you cross any bordr in any town. This will also lead to the government being able to tax us by the mile. Welcome Big Brother. The idea of also lowering the gas tax to offset this proposal is a pipe dream. No way will this legislature give back a tax.

  3. Actually, there is no toll on the Mass Pike from the NY border to Springfield. Although they do continue to have toll booths (and toll booth workers) to collect from those few folks who drive from Boston to Lee.

  4. ACR,
    There is so much wrong with what you just said. First, lets start witht he indisputable facts. When was the last time you drove the Pike in anything with two axels? The Pike from NY to 495 costs $2.10. Second, what do you do about the people without EZ Pass? Even in Jersey with those High speed toll booths you keep talking about, they still have toll booths just off the Highway that you have to pull into if you don’t have EZ Pass. How much will it cost to build those? How much will it cost to staff that? How much congestion will that cause?

    As for no one coming here, what about people from NY? People from NY come over the line to buy gas and clothes at a small discount. And what about Mass, which is talking about getting rid of tolls west of exit 15, and replacing them it with the nation’s highest gas tax. If Tolls are so great, why are so many in Mass so gung ho to get rid of them?

  5. When was the last time you drove the Pike in anything with two axels?

    Last month, often 3 or 4 times a month during the summer.

    The Pike from NY to 495 costs $2.10.

    Really?
    I’ve had a Mass Fast Pass for years – I never actually pay tolls in person, or any attention either I guess.

    Second, what do you do about the people without EZ Pass?

    Obama will help them?
    No?
    Seriously – elsewhere and for years now, those w/out a pass have their rear plate photographed and get a bill for the toll plus a fee for not having one in the 1st place.

    Even in Jersey with those High speed toll booths you keep talking about, they still have toll booths just off the Highway that you have to pull into if you don’t have EZ Pass.

    See above – we shouldn’t do it like New Jersey but rather we should copy Australia or much of Europe on this.

    How much will it cost to build those? How much will it cost to staff that?

    The tolls themselves will offset those expenses.

    How much congestion will that cause?

    ZERO – most NY and NJ cars already have one.

  6. This is completely wrong.
    The idea is to have a GPS device within yor emissions sticker…

    Welcome Big Brother.

    We don’t even have emissions stickers anymore.

  7. The big question that arises here is whether the net income from any tolls (toll income less construction, maintenance, payroll, fees paid to “fast pass” or another private vendor, and credits paid to CT drivers, etc) would offset the direct loss of federal highway funds. The estimated $400 to $500 million gross income will not balance out the real loss of federal funds and would effectively derail most of the plans already in place to address safety issues on the Eastern shore on 95 and possibly limit any funds available to study alt transportation needs for the state – it all comes from the same transportation bill every year.

    The idea of re-introducing tolls is to raise funds for the state. I remain unconvinced. If anything, this runs the risk of becoming a new sink-hole that takes needed infrastructure funds away from much needed projects and repairs.

    There will always be a need for manned tolls. The fast pass idea is great and is in widespread use by the freight industry, but you will never get universal use from everyone on the roads.

    The one-way toll from the border of NY to the center of Boston is only $5.10. (West Stockbridge to South Boston) http://www.masspike.com/user-cgi/tollcalc.cgi

  8. Look, it’s simple. If you keep taxing, you’re never going to stop spending. Want proof: Spending increased fourfold from the last non-income tax budget to the current life sucking budget – four times in the course of three governors. And these increases occurred when the state was realizing massive budget surpluses. These were not hard times.

    So then, the idea is to focus on spending cuts with the same energy and passion that had been spent over the years in devising new ways to spend.

    If we can’t do this, we do not deserve to survive – and we won’t. Connecticut will become the Haiti of the states. We are nearly there now. And we have been put in this position by politicians.

    So then, the focus on spending will stop when politicians begin to focus on spending cuts. This can only happen if the myriad ways of tapping into the pocket books of everyone is abandoned as a practical necessity. And you do that by abandoning it.

    THINK SPENDING CUTS.

    No politician who cannot offer four ways to balance the budget without increasing taxes should be re-elected top office.

  9. I’m not against tolls in principle: it seems like a fair way to charge people for driving on the road. However, ideally, tolls would vary by time of day to encourage people to shift their driving habits out of the rush hour times. I used to work in Toronto, and because the tolls were fairly high, people would come in very early and leave early, so they could take regular roads before they became too jammed, as the toll road was quite expensive. Some people will shift their work patterns, to everyone’s benefit.

    However, toll collection needs to be efficient. While EZPass is decent, we need something a bit better. In Canada, they have something similar. However, if you don’ have an electronic tag, you just drive through, and a camera takes a picture of your license plate and then you are mailed a bill (it’s more expensive to do that). This avoids backups. Problem with this is that people from more than one state away would probably not be known, so if someone with say Ohio plates drove, Connecticut wouldn’t know who to send a bill to.

    I’m also against putting tolls up just at the borders. To put tolls at the borders really requires that there be very few side streets that cross the border. Between Port Chester and Greenwich, for instance, there are probably 10 to 12 streets within a mile or 2 of 95 that cross the border. There is no way you could close them all or put tolls on all of them. There are exits near the border on both sides (exit 2 is practically on the border, for instance).

    Next, is it fair to charge someone a toll who drives from Stamford to Port Chester but not Stamford to Mystic? Why just tolls at the borders?

  10. You all miss the point.

    Our police refuse to clear the left lane – ever.
    (No problem pushing a stronger “move over” statute for themselves however, so they won’t be inconvenienced as they glide along at 90 (legally, they’re immune to speed limit regulations) talking on their (exempt) cell phones.)

    Tolls would at least get us something out of a slew of rude New York and New Jersey drivers that clog our highways every Thursday, Friday and Sunday as they meander through CT …in the left lane.

    Take it from someone who puts down 500 – 700 miles a week in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties; whacking the out of staters for a few bucks would be worth anything.

  11. When was the last time there were tolls in CT?

  12. And also: how long would it take for the state to construct toll booths, develop an Easypass system, etc? I’m guessing it would take time and by then this no longer seems like a “quick fix” kind of thing.

  13. You are all missing the point. We do not need tolls, we need to STOP spending.

  14. You are all missing the point. We do not need tolls, we need to STOP spending.

    We need both.

    If we had any real leadership in state government, this would be an enormous opportunity to streamline state government, eliminate waste, and cut any ineffective programs. There is no good reason that we can’t spend less and accomplish more.

    Ultimately, I think tolls might be a good revenue source. If the state could use the money sensibly, it’s a good option. As far as tackling the budget crisis, spending cuts are the way to go. We shouldn’t increase revenues unless we know the state legislature and the governor would spend it wisely.

  15. And also: how long would it take for the state to construct toll booths, develop an Easypass system, etc? I’m guessing it would take time and by then this no longer seems like a “quick fix” kind of thing.

    Does this look like it took a lot of construction?

    It’s already being done elsewhere and has been for a decade.

  16. You are all missing the point. We do not need tolls, we need to STOP spending.

    Do you really expect that anyone is going to take you seriously when you suggest we stop government spending??

  17. Carcharodon Carcharias

    Why pay all that money to set up tolls. We should just handle this the old fashioned way and have trolls charge travelers at our borders.

  18. johningreenwich

    I’m also against putting tolls up just at the borders. To put tolls at the borders really requires that there be very few side streets that cross the border. Between Port Chester and Greenwich, for instance, there are probably 10 to 12 streets within a mile or 2 of 95 that cross the border. There is no way you could close them all or put tolls on all of them. There are exits near the border on both sides (exit 2 is practically on the border, for instance).

    Amen, but the border between Greenwich and Port Chester is a river, and there are only 3 bridges that cross it: I-95, Route 1 and Mill St. The Study says 14,000 cars/day will divert. This won’t be a problem, it will be a disaster for the Port Chester and the Byram section of Greenwich.

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