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A vote of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee yesterday March 22 brought Connecticut drivers one step closer to encountering tolls on our roadways. After a relatively short debate, the Committee voted out a bill, (HB 5391), which requires the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to study and make recommendations on the implementation of tolls. These recommendations would then have to be adopted by the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee in the 2019 legislative session. The recommendations would become law if neither chamber votes upon them (in 2019). 03/23/2018

House Bill 5391 – An Act Concerning Transportation Infrastructure passed by a narrow margin.The bill mandates that DOT’s review must include:• Implementation of tolls on I-95, I-84, I-91 and the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways.• Identify specific locations of the tolling gantries, toll rates and discounts for CT residents.• Estimates for capital and operating costs of the tolling system.• Preparation and submission of a proposal for legislative approval.Once the legislative proposal is submitted; then• The Transportation Committee must convene a public hearing and hold a vote on the proposal.• The proposal may be approved or rejected by a majority of either chamber of the General Assembly.• The proposal is deemed approved if neither chamber votes upon it within 30 days of receipt (this facet of the bill proved controversial during the committee debate).HB 5391 also makes the following changes:• Reduces the motor fuel tax by one cent over a five (5) year period, be

Torrington residents still oppose sewer line approval; mayor pushes back against critics 03/22/2018

TORRINGTON — Raymond Bottass, a Torrington native, spent a portion of his day off on the streetcorner near City Hall, airhorn in hand, with a sign that read “Impeach Mayor Carbone.”Bottass, along with his wife, Carol, are protesting the recent decision to approve a sewer pipeline connecting the Woodridge Lake housing development in Goshen to the Torrington system, which is to run through part of the watershed area for the Allen Dam reservoir.“It was a 3-2 vote, and as a taxpayer ... I don’t believe it should be up to the six people who were there,” said Raymond Bottass. “I disapprove of everything that was there. ... I believe it was already a done deal (before the vote).”Botass said he’s worked in construction since he was 18. He said during his time in construction, he always found leaks in sewer pipes being disconnected, and believes the Woodridge Lake line eventually will fail.“It doesn’t seem to bother them. They have no conscience about it,” he said. “

State Looks at Tolls to Raise Highway Infrastructure FundsEmily Buenzle - CEG Web EditorImproving the nation's infrastructure will always come at a cost. States are looking at options for raising funds — and while plans of raised gas taxes have been surfacing, one state is exploring electronic tolling.After a 1983 crash at toll booths in Stratford, Conn., killed seven, the state opted to take out all of its toll plazas. Connecticut has been relying on the federal government to help it pick up the tab for maintenance of its interstate roads, but with the state's Special Transportation Fund dwindling, Gov. Daniel P. Malloy is looking into a safer, updated tolling option, Connecticut Magazine reported.How It WorksWith electronic tolling, vehicles drive under toll gantries, which are equipped with cameras and computers to read the drivers' E-ZPasses or license plates. Those in support of the move say this method will generate more revenue than the current 25-cents-per-gallon gas tax that the Special Transportation Fund has been relying on. What's more, the tolling price would fluctuate with road congestion, with a higher price for those travelling during rush hour, Connecticut Magazine reported.According to Connecticut DOT Commissioner, James Redeker, this move could bring in up to $750 million annually. Installing the system across state roadways would likely cost between $450 million and $635 million, Connecticut DOT said.Redeker said that state experts believe it should be about four or five years before the approval and installation process are in place and the state starts to benefit from the funds. Redeker also said that federal approval for such a system could take about a year.Jim Cameron, a state commuter rail advocate, said he thinks the tolls gantries should be placed all across Connecticut, Connecticut Magazine reported.“Where they get placed is up for grabs,” he said. “It has been proposed to toll 95, 84 and 91 but also the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways. But I would say the fairest way is to distribute tolls across the state so no one part is paying and another getting a free ride. If you drive on our roads, you're going to pay a toll for their upkeep.“Driving is not free. It may be low cost, but it's not free. And the gas tax is not enough to pay for the maintenance of [Connecticut] roads and bridges. Motorists must pay their fair share to keep mass transit affordable.”Cameron also pointed out the fact that tolls would help combat the gas tax funds lost from electric vehicles.“So the guy driving a Tesla, why is he getting a free ride?” Cameron said. “Why isn't he contributing to the maintenance of the roads? That's where tolls come in.”According to Gov. Malloy and other advocates for the tolling system, out-of-state drivers get to use these highways, but don't contribute to their upkeep, placing the burden of maintenance and upkeep entirely on in-state drivers, Connecticut Magazine reported.But not everyone agrees with the move. State Sen. Toni Boucher said these tolls wouldn't be fair for commuters who must drive in rush-hour.“Tolls only capture those people who have to go through them,” Boucher said. “They hurt those that can least afford to pay them. I'm opposed to tolls unless they cut the gas tax and other taxes. Tolls could cost $60 a week to some people. Between Greenwich and New Haven there would be around 12 tolls on I-95. Not that you have to stop, but every time you go through one you would be assessed another toll.”Others have raised concerns over whether the tolls would impact the amount of federal funding the state receives. But DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said this would not be an issue, Connecticut Magazine reported.“There is no connection between the amount of federal dollars Connecticut receives every year and tolls or the lack thereof,” Everhart said. “Bringing back tolls would have no impact on the amount of federal money coming to Connecticut.” 03/21/2018

Vehicle Weight Restrictions in Place for Cribari Bridge Due to Structural DeteriorationVIDEOThe state is limiting the weight of vehicles that can cross the 133-year-old William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge in Westport because of structural deterioration, and that will prohibit some emergency vehicles from crossing the truss bridge, according to Westport officials.Westport officials said the Connecticut Department of Transportation notified them Monday that only vehicles weighing less than 40,000 pounds, or 20 tons, will be permitted on the state-owned and maintained bridge, which goes over the Saugatuck River.“(R)esidents should be aware that this limitation does not impact a majority of the vehicles that cross the Cribari Bridge, including school buses,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a news released.Marpe said some emergency vehicles and town public works vehicles that exceed the weight limit will have to take the Post Road or Interstate 95 to provide service to the west side of