No tolls if you live within 10 miles? It’s possible

January 17, 2019

Should you pay a highway toll if the gantry is near your house?

Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, floated an idea during an interview Thursday that he said would put the burden of tolls on the backs of trucking companies and non-resident drivers.

In Haskell’s mind, a driver wouldn’t have to pay a toll if the gantry is within, for example, 10 miles of where an E-ZPass is registered.

“If you’re using 95 as a local road to get to stop and shop you shouldn’t have to pay,” Haskell said.

He did not specify if the distance would be calculated as road miles or concentric circles around the gantries.

Highway tolls haven’t been a thing in Connecticut since 1989. But Gov. Ned Lamont campaigned on limited tolling and a state study released in November said as much as $1 billion may be left on the table as long as there are no tolls.

But Haskell, newly elected and a member of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said he’d only be in favor if residents paid lower tolls than out-of state drivers.

A Westport native, many of his constituents are train commuters, and Haskell equated highway tolls with train fares, calling them both “user fees.”

“Those who take the train pay a user fee,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Why shouldn’t the same be asked of those on the roads? Why should CT taxpayers subsidize out-of-state drivers and trucks?”

For Haskell, a system in which you pay more the further you go on a highway — such as exists in New Jersey and Massachusetts, among other states — or exempting drivers from the gantries nearest their homes means residents wouldn’t be paying for the wear on roadways caused by out-of-state drivers.

“They’re not really being asked to contribute,” he said Thursday.

Haskell said the issue of transportation is not partisan, but regional. Fairfield County legislators on the transportation committee are unified in their focus, he said of the committee’s first meeting Wednesday.

“What we’re starting to build is a Fairfield County coalition,” he said.

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