The governor of Connecticut is stepping back from campaign promises of funding state infrastructure projects by tolling only commercial vehicles after backlash from the trucking community and the threat of legal action.
Late last week, newly elected Democrat Governor Ned Lamont said that he is now looking at a plan to toll all vehicles, not just trucks, as a way to generate funds for highway improvements.
In an op-ed published over the weekend, Lamont said that he had come to realize, in spite of his campaign promises, that truck-tolls would generate “too little revenue, too slowly” — especially since he had been informed that he would likely only be able to legally apply the tolls to trucks on certain bridges.
As I learned about the issue, I indicated my support for tolling only tractor trailer trucks, as they do in Rhode Island. This would provide at least some revenue to maintain our system, though not enough to upgrade it. While we are awaiting a ruling from the courts regarding truck-only tolling, our attorneys are pretty certain that if permitted, the tolling could only be done on specific bridges and the generated revenue would be reserved for those bridges, not for congestion pricing. Assuming our attorneys are correct, the truck-only option provides too little revenue, too slowly and too piecemeal to make a meaningful difference.
On the campaign trail, Lamont told voters that he believed he could generate anywhere from $100 million to $200 million from truck-only tolling. However, the new wider tolling plan involving all vehicles could generate approximately $800 million.
Lamont’s truck-only toll plan was unpopular with the state’s Republican lawmakers as well as with members of the trucking industry and anti-tolling groups. Last year, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) threatened to take legal action against the state of Connecticut if it moved forward with truck-only toll plans.