I was not surprised to see that the Transportation Strategy Board decided this week to decide nothing – I was somewhat relieved. The million-dollar study and TSB (in)actions need to be publicized (read exposed) so they never happen again. Quite simply, tolls other than those that might finance a needed new road or HOV lane, are a bad idea.
TSB Chairman Kevin Kelleher was quoted in the Connecticut Post as saying:
“We don’t have in any way, shape or form from the document a way to say option A,B,C,D,E,F,G, or H is the way the state should go.”
Well, TSB proudly touted earlier in the week in Norwalk that they had commissioned a study that would provide information about the different options and NOT include recommendations, so why complain when the study didn’t include recommendations?
I guess they were hoping for an obvious choice to emerge. It did, they just couldn’t see it: all the options are bad. Either they just missed the point or didn’t want to disappoint proponents in the legislature by telling them something they don’t want to hear: Sorry, our highways are not your new pot of gold to plunder.
Kelleher was further quoted:
“Without further consideration to quantify how much traffic might divert to Route 1 in Fairfield County, it would be difficult to ratify the concept of border tolls.”
We paid one million dollars for the report, and it included diversion numbers for every option – with a special diversion section for the border toll option – so what further study is needed? I guess they didn’t like the numbers because they made that popular-with-legislators option sour, so maybe another study will produce better numbers. If the numbers provided in the million-dollar study are not good, will we get our money back?
We’re not out of the woods yet. By not recommending no tolls, the TSB has left that option open to the legislature for further consideration. They don’t need TSB approval to do something; they are very, very good at levying taxes all on their own.
I should mention my personal connection to all this. I was at the Norwalk hearing to testify on behalf of the Byram (Greenwich) Neighborhood Association against border tolls at the I-95 NY border. And yes, I read the whole study, several times. This option, according to the study, would send 14,000 cars/day through Byram and Port Chester, an area where the border is a river, and the options are two other bridges that are connected by two already very congested roads. This option would destroy our neighborhood and is completely unworkable. As much was stated in the report, yet the TSB couldn’t even say that this option should go off the table, so I’m still worried.
At this point, the TSB should either recommend the obvious, that the toll options are unworkable and not recommended, or they should resign for wasting one million dollars.