State Rep. Ziogas holds forum on tolls

State Representative Chris Ziogas (D-Bristol) hosted a forum last Monday in Bristol on investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure. An audience of approximately 50 Bristol residents attended the presentation and question and answer session. Participants included Ziogas; House Transportation Committee Chair, Rep. Roland Lemar; and Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw, Governor Lamont’s budget chief.

“There has been a lot of misinformation,” Ziogas said in a press release from his office. “I wanted a fact-based conversation about a realistic plan that relieves Connecticut taxpayers from the full burden of paying for our infrastructure needs.”

“We have heard from constituents, experts, and politicians on both sides of the aisle – everyone agrees that Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is in desperate need of significant investment,” Lemar said reported the press release. “Republicans and Democrats both believe that the state should dedicate $700-$800 million annually to infrastructure repairs and improvements.”

Under the Republican’s “Prioritize Progress” plan transportation projects would be put on the state’s credit card, said Ziogas’s press release. Current and future taxpayers would foot the entire bill – with interest. According to their proposal, the Democrat’s news release said, Republicans would bond, or borrow, hundreds of millions of dollars every year for 30 years. Analysts predict their plan would result in an income tax increase, property tax increases and higher costs for borrowing money with a lower bond rating.

The Democratic proposal – which calls for electronic tolls on I-95, I-91, I-84 and the Merritt Parkway – would capture 30 to 40 percent of toll-generated revenue from out-of-state drivers, said Ziogas’s statement.

Details include, said the news release,

Toll gantries on I-84, I-95, I-91 and the Merritt Parkway.

Gantries will be located every 6 to 7 miles and frequent commuters and Connecticut residents will get discounts.

Tolls will be less than 5 cents-per-mile.

No more than 50 gantries in total.

Revenues from tolls will be exclusively used on transportation projects.

 

A Bristol resident could expect a toll of approximately 66 cents for a one-way commute to Hartford, said Ziogas.

Hundreds of roads and bridges across Connecticut have been identified as being in need of repairs, improvements or replacement, said Ziogas’s press release. According to the Department of Transportation, 57 percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways are in poor condition and 22 percent are in mediocre condition.