In a poll on what Darien residents think about Governor Ned Lamont’s proposal for tolls on I-95, a majority of them were against the tolls.
Talking to customers leaving Palmer’s in Noroton Heights and Stop & Shop in Goodwives Shopping Center, 47 out of 56 residents told The Darien Times they opposed the proposal.
One woman exclaimed her disapproval, saying, “I see no point in them.”
Another said, “Why would anyone want that?”
Others were less angered by the proposal. A young man said, “Yeah I don’t really know why they’d do that. Going through New York and New Jersey is already enough.”
An older man said, “I get what they’re trying to do in terms of getting the state more money, but we already have the second highest taxes in the country. I don’t approve, no.”
The very few who didn’t oppose the proposal were not exactly for it either. A majority of them thought it was the state doing what it has to do in order to get things done.
A woman said, “Yeah none of us would like it but maybe we need it.”
A 2018 study by the Department of Transportation projected tolls could raise as much as $1 billion per year, though the state’s net gain also would depend on the level of discounts provided to Connecticut motorists.
“I know there are proposals in the Legislature that include tolling for cars and trucks. I would only consider this option if we maximized the discount for Connecticut EZ-Pass users and/or offered a “frequent driver” discount for those who are required to travel our major roadways on a frequent basis,” Lamont wrote.
The first bill to deal with electronic tolls was introduced Jan. 16 in the Connecticut General Assembly by freshman Democratic Sen. Alexandra Bergstein of Greenwich. The one-page bill, Proposed Bill No. 102, would require:
- The establishment of electronic tolls on major highways.
- Fees on a per-mile basis to be comparable to surrounding states;
- Proceeds of tolls to be deposited in the Special Transportation Fund, some portion of which would be diverted to a newly created state infrastructure bank.
State transportation officials estimate tolling Connecticut’s highways could raise $1 billion annually, according to the Hartford Courant, with in-state traffic accounting for 44 percent of revenue, according to a study released Thursday. Electronic gantries would be installed at average intervals of 6.6 miles across 539 miles of roadway.
Tolls would cost about $372 million to roll out, with $210 million needed to install an electronic tolling infrastructure and $162 million to create a fiber communications system, according to the state Department of Transportation.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson expressed concern for overflow traffic in Darien from those avoiding tolls on I-95 to Sen. Carlo Leone during a recent community conversation. Darien is dissected by I-95 and the Post Road is often used for overflow traffic if there is congestion on the highway. Leone said any toll plan would study that overflow and take it into consideration.
Additional reporting by Times editor Susan Shultz.