Transportation committee votes in favor of tolling bills

The Connecticut General Assembly's Transportation Committee Wednesday approved several tolling bills for Connecticut.

The three plans include Gov. Lamont's plan and two separate committee plans. The plans all passed on a party-line vote, 23-13.

All three of the plans include installing tolls along Interstates 91, 95, 84 and parts of the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways.

One of the plans requires a study and another legislative vote before constructing tolls.

A rush hour trip from Greenwich to Bridgeport could cost drivers $1.28. However, Connecticut EZ-Pass holders might only pay half.

Gov. Ned Lamont released a statement saying, "My plan includes discounts for Connecticut EZ-Pass holders and frequent commuters and assistance for low-income individuals and families, as well. Simply put, a 21st century economy cannot be supported by a 20th century transportation system.

Supporters of the plans warn no tolls could lead to another tragedy like the Mianus Bridge collapse. They say tolls are necessary to attract jobs and fix the state's dangerous bridges.

"If we don't make moves pretty soon, it's going to look like a bombed-out Syrian province," says Rep. Jonathan Steinberg.

Some lawmakers say there are still too many unanswered questions.

"I cannot vote for this bill today," says Rep. Gail Lavielle. "I don't know how many tolls I'm voting for, where they're going to go, how many of them and what they will cost."

All Republican lawmakers voted against the toll proposals. Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano and Sen. Henri Martin, ranking member of the Transportation Committee, released the following statement in response to the vote.

"All three toll bills approved today have one thing in common, they allow lawmakers to completely abandon their responsibility to taxpayers and shift the blame to someone else. Those who voted in favor of these bills today do not have the courage to own up to the fact that their actions will be responsible for tolls across the state and massive new taxes on every resident."

The Transportation Committee's approval now means the toll plans will head to the full General Assembly.

All of the plans let the state Department of Transportation set the prices without approval from lawmakers. One of the plans would freeze rates for 10 years.