State legislators in Connecticut have scheduled a vote on a controversial plan to toll tractor-trailer trucks, paving the way for a fee on heavy-duty vehicles to pay for deteriorating highway infrastructure, news outlets reported.
The vote, slated for the week of Feb. 10, was announced as hundreds of people packed a nine-hour public hearing on Friday to discuss Gov. Ned Lamont's latest transportation plan, part of a 10-year, $19.4 billion infrastructure plan to improve roads, bridges, airports, rail and bus service.
Under the proposal, the state would collect tolls from tractor-trailer trucks traveling on the state's highways at 12 electronic gantries. The latest version of the plan limits tolls to heavy-duty trucks but also contains an emergency clause that could include smaller trucks and passenger vehicles.
Testifying in front of the state legislature transportation committee, T.R. Brysh, president of a small trucking company in Guilford, Connecticut, said the proposed tolls would add $60,000 in annual costs for his four-truck operation.
"I realize you deal with millions of dollars," Brysh said, "but I can assure you, $60,000 is devastating."
Saying he "will have no choice" but to pass on those costs to his customers. Brysh said his "greater concern" is for the state economy. "It's a de facto tax increase for the residents of our state."
Supporters say tolls are needed to provide a steady funding source to maintain and repair the state's aging roads and bridges.
The trucking fees are expected to generate $230.1 million dollars per year, with towns where the gantries are located dividing 5% of revenue generated for their own infrastructure projects.
"Let me be clear: With current trends, the [Special Transportation Fund] will be in deficit starting in the fiscal year 2025," testified Melissa McCaw, the governor's budget director.
The Connecticut plan comes as the American Trucking Associations is locked in a battle with the state of Rhode Island over its truck-only toll plan. The lawsuit, which is pending, claims that a truck-only toll is discriminatory and violates federal regulations.
Under the current version of the Connecticut proposal, legislators can expand the toll to include passenger vehicles — but only if 60% of lawmakers are in favor.
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