Council sends message on tolls

The Town Council found common ground on tolls at its March 4 meeting, with the members voting overwhelmingly to issue a statement against “a system of tolls in the State of Connecticut that may disproportionately or unfairly impact Trumbull residents financially and impact public safety and impact congestion on our roads.”
The resolution, brought up by the council’s Republican members, was not quite the line-in-the-sand opposition that GOP members wanted, but the message is clear, said Republican leader Carl Massaro.

“While resolutions of this nature are not generally considered town business, the obvious effects of placing as many as 22 electronic gantries on I95 and the Merritt/Wilbur Cross parkways from Greenwich to New Haven made this resolution highly relevant to residents and workers in our town,” Massaro said.
The effects on town residents would likely include increased costs of the tolls and the potential for more traffic on town roads if motorists tried to avoid highway tolls by exiting and re-entering the highways, Massaro said.
“Lots of people have expressed concerns,” Massaro said. “It’s a major concern downcounty. Stamford voted similarly.”
On the other side of the aisle, Majority Leader Jason Marsh cited the council’s deliberations as a model of deliberation and compromise.
“People actually listened to one another,” Marsh said. “Thoughtful amendments to the resolution were proposed on the floor by both Democratic and Republican council members, and after much discussion, Resolution TC27-159 passed by an overwhelming majority.”
While the resolution’s final form was not what either side wanted, Marsh said the council “was able to put aside partisan prejudices and come together in the spirit of cooperation and compromise for the benefit of all Trumbull residents.”
Marsh said the reason he was glad the council did not make a flat statement of opposition to tolls is the fact that the plan continues to evolve. What is clear to Marsh is that the state’s infrastructure is in need of upkeep and improvement, and that will cost money. The question then becomes who pays and how much, he said.

“The one item that’s been left out of the discussion is who will pay for the state’s infrastructure,” he said.
A toll plan that generates 30% to 40% of its revenue from out-of-state drivers could be a better option than the state issuing bonds, in which case 100% of the cost would be borne by state residents, Marsh said.
“These infrastructure improvements are going to happen,” he said. “The question is what is the least painful plan, that gives us the most long-term benefit.”