Report by Paula Antolini
March 1, 2017 9:38AM EDT
CT State Rep. Will Duff Voices Strong Opposition to Tolls
HARTFORD- With the growing search for new ways to generate revenue, some state legislators are pushing for the re-institution of tolls, State Rep. Will Duff (R-2) is opposed to any new tolls proposal which would be put on Connecticut highways.
“Make no mistake this is an additional tax on middle class families, who are already feeling the pinch. Bringing back tolls is a bad idea for Connecticut and especially for the greater Danbury area,” said Rep. Duff. “We are home to the Danbury Fair Mall, which attracts many New York state shoppers to Connecticut to shop and dine. These out-of-staters come to Connecticut due to the lower sales tax and the convenience of being right next door. Putting tolls on I-84 will have a chilling effect on those New Yorkers, therefore hurting our local businesses and taking away a chunk of Connecticut sales tax revenue due to the lack of sales.”
The President of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce Stephen Bull testified at the Transportation committee that 50 percent of the retail market for the Danbury Fair Mall and the big-box stores on Federal Road comes from New York. Erecting tolls on I-84 would devastate the local economy and cause major job loss.
Rep. Duff said, “Let’s get something straight even with the newer technology such as EZ Pass and electronic tolling; one can only surmise that tolls will lead to additional traffic congestion on local roads from people trying to avoid paying them. And who bears the costs of local road maintenance? Not the state!”
House and Senate Republicans last year proposed a transportation plan, ‘Prioritize Progress,’ which is a viable transportation solution, which provides for an annual transportation funding mechanism guaranteeing at least $1 billion annually over the next 30 years with no tax increases or tolls. The transportation proposal provides for flexibility in setting transportation priorities and gives Connecticut a sustainable and predictable funding plan to support future generations.
Rep. Duff said, “The focus should be on fixing, updating and maintaining current transportation infrastructure not build a busway across the state or construct a new rail line from New Haven to Springfield, MA. We live in a state that people dread to be on the highway at certain times of the day. Many constituents who travel I-84 Waterbury tell me traveling through Waterbury is a traffic nightmare, and I cannot disagree. First and foremost, we need to stay laser focused on fixing these current traffic problems.”
Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker also testified against the implementation of tolls on Connecticut highways in the Transportation committee public hearing February 27th.
The tolls legislation now awaits further Transportation committee action. Their committee deadline is March 20th.