As Connecticut wrestles with the question of re-introducing highway tolls, Democrats and Republicans are at odds about whether the idea is feasible. A bill which would include tolls as a revenue raising source for transportation has already passed out of committee, and will be debated by the full House and Senate.
An independent analysis said tolls could collect $250 million to $350 million each year. But Republicans believe that a deal struck with the federal government in the 1980s means that Connecticut cannot install border tolls without paying back decades worth of federal gas tax money.
Senator Len Fasano told WNPR’s Where We Live that even if Connecticut introduces something like congestion pricing, people will simply avoid it.
"This is not the silver bullet to solve our transportation problems at all," he said on the show. "It's going to come nowhere close -- if it generates any real revenue at the end of the day -- because there's a price point. People will get off and avoid the tolls."
But House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz is a supporter of tolls -- he's even called them inevitable. He said state residents really want to see something done about improving transportation.
"This is an incredibly popular plan," he said. "I know it may not fit with the overall political narrative, but moving forward, transportation infrastructure improvements in Connecticut are critical to our economic development. While tolls may not be the only answer, border tolls and some tolls throughout the state of Connecticut will provide us the necessary money to do it."
Aresimowicz said he’s open to giving state residents a lower rate on tolls than out-of-state drivers. He foresees Connecticut having a system in place in the next two years.