Tolls would mean cash for towns, ci­ties

Nor­walk’s share of rev­enues pro­jected to be $740,000

The Norwalk Hour - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken Dixon

If Gov. Ned La­mont can get his 14­toll plan adopted by the Gen­eral As­sem­bly, Water­bury’s share of rev­enue would be the most of any host com­mu­nity, es­ti­mated at about $1.9 mil­lion a year for the city to in­vest in lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Green­wich’s piece of the ac­tion for a pro­posed toll on the bridge over the Byram River on In­ter­state 684, in a corner of town hardly driven on by its res­i­dents, would be $353,751 per year.

Those pro­jected rev­enues un­der La­mont’s CT2030 pro­gram are ex­pected to make the gov­er­nor’s pro­posed 10­year, $21 bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture plan at least a lit­tle more palat­able. Towns and ci­ties would re­ceive 5 per­cent of the rev­enues from tolls they host.

Stam­ford’s share of rev­enues for lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture would be about $1.64 mil­lion a year for tolling the I­95 bridge over the Metro-North Com­muter Rail­road tracks.

The pro­posed toll on the Mer­ritt Park­way at Route 7 in Nor­walk would gen­er­ate about $740,000 a year for the city.

West­port would reap about $1.5 mil­lion a year if the I­95 bridge over Route 33 on the west bank of the Sau­gatuck River be­comes a toll lo­ca­tion.

West Haven would col­lect $1.5 mil­lion of its own for host­ing toll gantries along an I­95 bridge over the MetroNorth line.

Tolls on the Rocham­beau Bridge over the Housatonic River along I­84 in New­town and South­bury would gen­er­ate more than $415,000 for lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture in those towns, La­mont’s ad­min­is­tra­tion said Fri­day.

Middletown would re­ceive more than $882,000 a year for host­ing a toll on Route 9 that spans Route 17.

“Pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional funds to ci­ties and towns that are host­ing user fees is a recog­ni­tion that CT2030 is a plan de­signed to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on all economies, large and small, in the state of Con­necti­cut,” said Max Reiss, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for La­mont.

“In or­der for CT2030 to be suc­cess­ful, we must en­sure that all of our ci­ties and towns are suc­cess­ful, and Gov. La­mont be­lieves one of the ways to help ac­cel­er­ate growth is through pro­vid­ing sup­port to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties host­ing user fees,” Reiss said Fri­day. “Then, ci­ties and towns can make the in­vest­ments in their own in­fra­struc­ture that they know are right for their com­mu­ni­ties.”

The ad­di­tional fund­ing would sup­ple­ment the state’s cur­rent an­nual con­tri­bu­tions for town road aid from the state bud­get.

Stam­ford Mayor David Martin, in a Twit­ter post­ing on Fri­day, had mixed emo­tions. “Like many res­i­dents in Stam­ford I don’t like pay­ing tolls, but I ap­plaud the gov­er­nor’s coura­geous com­mit­ment to fix­ing our trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture while be­ing fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble,” Martin, like La­mont a Demo­crat, wrote. “We all have to face the tough choices and can­not keep kick­ing the can down the road.”

Kevin T. Maloney, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mem­ber re­la­tions for the Con­necti­cut Con­fer­ence of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, said Fri­day that the state’s towns and ci­ties wel­come any ad­di­tional help that might be­come avail­able.

“This pro­posal re­flects CCM’s on­go­ing effort for greater rev­enue shar­ing and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion any time new state fund­ing is avail­able to towns to help de­crease the de­pen­dency on prop­erty taxes for res­i­dents and busi­nesses,” Maloney said. “We trust that if tolls are ap­proved, mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers can ac­tu­ally de­pend upon these funds com­ing back to towns year in and year out. Lo­cal gov­ern­ments need ad­di­tional, de­pend­able rev­enue streams as they seek to best man­age their town’s rev­enues and ex­penses over time.”

Tolls would cost 50 cents to a dol­lar, with 20 per­cent dis­counts for driv­ers with Con­necti­cut E­ZPass transpon­ders in their wind­shields. Trucks would pay $7. Driv­ers would not pay more than once a day for round trips. Fed­eral fund­ing for­mu­las un­der com­pet­i­tive pro­grams re­quire ded­i­cated rev­enue streams, so La­mont’s plan to re­vive Con­necti­cut high­ways, rail and bus lines ne­ces­si­tates tolling, a large frac­tion of which would come from out­of­s­tate driv­ers.

In rolling out his lat­est at­tempt to per­suade the balky Gen­eral As­sem­bly on high­way tolls, La­mont on Thurs­day sug­gested that for tolls bridg­ing two com­mu­ni­ties, such as the Gold Star bridge over the Thames River, link­ing New Lon­don and Gro­ton, the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would share rev­enue, pro­jected at more than $1 mil­lion a year.

Since the late­ness of the year most likely pre­cludes the is­sue reach­ing the Gen­eral As­sem­bly in a spe­cial ses­sion, it is likely to be­come a ma­jor fo­cus of the 2020 leg­is­la­ture, which be­gins its work in Fe­bru­ary.

East Hart­ford and Hart­ford would share more than $880,000 from the Char­ter Oak Bridge over the Con­necti­cut River.

Water­bury is in line for a larger amount than other towns be­cause of the so­called mix master, where Route 8 meets I­84 in a clover­leaf of sharply turn­ing ramps. The toll there would mean $1.4 mil­lion a year for Water­bury, while an­other toll south of I­84 on Route 8 would pro­vide the city with an ad­di­tional $491,000 a year, un­der the CT2030 plan.

Tolls on I­95 in East Lyme, over Route 161, would pro­vide $1.3 mil­lion a year for that town. Plain­field in eastern Con­necti­cut would get nearly $323,000 a year for a toll site along I­395 over the Moosup River.

Round­ing out the 14 toll sites would be a gantry setup on I­84 in West Hart­ford over Berk­shire Road, which would gen­er­ate $1.18 mil­lion a year for that town.

Elise Amendola / As­so­ci­ated Press

Gov. Ned La­mont’s 10­year, $21­bil­lion trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram in­cluded 5­per­cent rev­enue in­cen­tives for towns and ci­ties that host high­way tolls, such as this over­head gantry on the Mas­sachusetts Turn­pike.

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