WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) - On Wednesday, three bills to allow tolls passed through their committees.
Lawmakers and homeowners on both sides of the debate tolls view this issue in completely different ways.
Supporters feel that tolls are the best way to fix our state’s ailing roads and bridges, but critics feel like the residents are already overtaxed in this state and tolls would only lighten our wallets even more.
Even from high above Waterbury’s Mixmaster, the ugly truth that it needs repairs is obvious.
Mayor Neil O’Leary says the series of bridges and ramps is just one example that proves Governor Ned Lamont is right to push for tolls!
“All of these infrastructure issues are decades in the making and I am grateful quite frankly again that someone has the courage to address these issues that are vitally important to cities like Waterbury,” said O’Leary.
Lamont says placing 53 toll locations on these 4 highways could raise 800 million dollars to help fix state roads and bridges, but critics like state Senator Rob Sampson say the plan is short sighted.
“The answers to all of Connecticut’s problems is economic growth,” said Sampson.
Sampson argues taking more money from state tax payers is wrong. Instead the governor should focus on increasing the tax base by taking steps to entice businesses and people to move here.
“If we don’t do something to attract businesses and people and let them know that this is a welcoming place for them to live work run a business and retire it’s going to continue a downward spiral,” Sampson said.
On Thursday evening, Sampson and other Republican lawmakers held a tolls forum at Crosby High School in Waterbury.
Most of the people who attended, like Donna Cody are against tolls.
“We just pay too much as it is. We have had taxes income taxes, taxes on our real estate our property, it’s just been spent wrong and why give us more why put more burden on the public,” said Cody.
The Department of Transpiration estimates tolls could potentially cost drivers about 3 to 5 cents per mile but some folks at the forum like Thomas Yates feel any financial pain would be worth it in the end if it led to better roads and bridges.
“It’s not a tax it’s a user fee if you’re not on the highway you’re not paying for it, so you may be inconvenienced but if you have easy pass it’s cheaper in the long run,” Yates said.
In the end Cody, Yates, Sampson and O’Leary do see eye to eye on one thing, the recent increased public activism at forums like this one is a positive.
Tolls won’t be coming to the state anytime soon.
The DOT says the earliest tolls could arrive is 2023.