cross post from HatCityBLOG
No, I’m not kidding…
Welcome to Connecticut. That’ll be $3, please.
Leaving? OK, just pay another $3.
That’s the future for motorists on highways crossing into Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York if state Rep. Tony Guerrera, D- Rocky Hill, wins his campaign to restore tolls in the state.
Guerrera wants Connecticut to install high-tech tolls at seven key spots near its borders. That could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to maintain highways and repair deteriorating bridges, with most of the money coming from out-of-state drivers who pass through Connecticut on a free ride now, he said.
“My plan is we put in tolls, and we cut the gas tax in half,” Guerrera said.Connecticut hits drivers for 25 cents a gallon at the pump to maintain roads and aid mass transit, but state officials have warned that revenue isn’t keeping up with the cost of repairing deteriorating bridges, overpasses and highways. Guerrera proposes cutting the tax to about 12 cents.
That would save $50 a year for a motorist who logs 10,000 miles in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon. Guerrera says all the remaining gas tax income should go solely to mass transit. Highway and bridge work would be funded from toll revenue; Cambridge Systematics, a consultant, last year projected that $3 tolls at seven heavily used state border crossings would generate nearly $600 million a year by 2015.
Okay, I’ll make this quick…this proposal is batshit crazy!
Give the make-up of Danbury, it’s outrageous that the state legislature would consider making commuters shell out 3 dollars each time the enter and exit Danbury. It’s bad enough that traffic is back up on such roads as Mill Plain road during rush hours, could you imagine the traffic nightmares on the roads once they install a border toll?!?
Remember, when it comes to the landscape of Hat City, I-84 is a relative new stretch of road. Here’s a brief history lesson on the major highway in the Greater Danbury area.
Traffic on US 6 and US 6A was already significant before interstate highways started opening in the late 1950s. In 1955, a new four-lane section of US 6/202 in Newtown opened, bypassing the old Church Hill and Glen Road routing. It’s now part of I-84, which was reconstructed in the late 1960s and again in the 1970s.
In 1958, Connecticut Gov. Abraham Ribicoff called building I-84 the “top priority”, and work in the Danbury area began in October of that year. On Dec. 16, 1961, 15 miles of four-lane expressway were opened, from the state line to Sandy Hook. The work included the 3-way interchanges for the proposed US 7 expressway at exits 3 and 7. Opening ceremonies were held at the Lake Avenue overpass in Danbury and the US 6 overpass (exit 10) in Sandy Hook.
Beyond Sandy Hook, the highway narrowed to the undivided four-lane US 6 and 202 bypass built in the 1950s. Around 1967, this was upgraded to a divided highway, but was still substandard between exits 10 and 13, including a narrow Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River, and two small interchanges (exits 11 and 12) west of the riverbank. Both the narrow profile of the highway and the short ramps of the interchanges posed safety problems.
In the early 1970s, the state conducted public hearings to improve the area. A new westbound span of the Rochambeau Bridge would be constructed, allowing six lanes of traffic over the river. Exits 11 and 12 would be eliminated, and exit 13 made safer (but now a partial interchange, only serving traffic to and from the west). Around 1976, all this was done, and a new 3-level interchange (which became exit 11) for the proposed Route 25 expressway was built. (The interchange, at the modern exit 11, currently serves two-lane Route 34 instead.) Exit 12, which served Riverside Road immediately west of the Housatonic, was deleted and not replaced.
The overlap of US 7 and I-84, from exits 3 thru 7 in Danbury, became one of the worst bottlenecks in the state in the 1980s. (US 6 and US 202 also shared the same four lanes of freeway.) Early in the decade the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO) presented a traffic projection to DOT justifying widening the overlap to six lanes. That widening was completed in 1988.
As you can see, it wasn’t that long ago when roads like Route 6 (Mill Plain Road), as well as Route 7 were the major points of travel for those traveling in and out of Danbury. In terms of border tolls, if installed, you can bet that traffic will increase on these roads, as well as other routes such as NY 121, NY 123, NY 22, NY 116, CT 37, and CT 39.
(Here’s a map of the area where the border toll is being proposed. Click and drag the map to see the number of US routes in the area).
…and I’m not even going to bring up the decline in revenue that will be felt at such places as Danbury Mall and Stew Leonard’s.
Last April, State Rep, and Transportation committee chairman, Tony Guerrera came to Danbury to hear our opinion on border tolls…and lets just say that Danbury, public officials, business owners, and residents gave him an earful.
Obviously, Guerrera wasn’t listening…
Why should Danbury residents who are working in Westchester County get slapped with a 6 dollar round trip tab (which works out to 30 dollars per work week)?!?
If we have to re-install tolls, at least install them on the major bridges in the state where they belong (I can think of a few in the Rocky Hill area). Demanding that people cough up 3 dollars per pass on the CT/NY border would be disastrous.