Stay away from tolls

From MTAC President Joe Sculley’s Letter to the Editor of the Hartford Courant:

In your Oct. 12 editorial – Five Reasons Connecticut Needs A Budget Now – you state “Connecticut will have to do what states from Maine to North Carolina have done: install tolls on the state’s highways, the third busiest in the nation.”

This statement is not exactly true. No state has “installed tolls on their highways” — rather, those states built their highways with tolls. They were then grandfathered in to the Eisenhower Interstate system when it was created. Since then, installing tolls on existing interstates has been generally prohibited.

Connecticut is eyeing an exception to the prohibition, which would allow them to implement congestion-price tolling on existing interstates under the Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP). No state has ever used the VPPP to congestion-price toll an existing interstate. Connecticut’s proposal is unprecedented and highly regressive.

Congestion-price tolling of existing interstates would result in toll rates set so high that drivers cannot afford to drive on the highway. This would happen so that the state can say they “reduced congestion.” Tolling proponents say that other areas of the country have congestion pricing, but they are not telling you the full story.

Those states added new express lanes and tolled only those lanes. If those toll rates get too high, drivers stay on the existing toll-free interstate.

The General Assembly in 2017 has rejected three different forms of legislation that would have paved the way for regressive, congestion-price tolling. They should hold firm and prevent this from happening.

See the complete letter to the editor online.