Letter: The tale of the tolls

To the Editor:

The governor has released his budget proposals and the story is not pretty. Not only is it not pretty, it’s all a big scary fairytale. I am very concerned about the transportation portion of that fairytale; the Tale of the Tolls.

The Tale of the Tolls goes something like this. “We want to put in these magic money makers so that we can afford to give you nice smooth roads and safe trains. Not to worry we are going to let those out of town people, who ruined our roads in the first place, pay for it. And we promise not to use the money for anything else; cross our hearts.” Doesn’t that make you all warm and fuzzy?

As we all know, with every fairytale comes reality. The DOT commissioner and the budget director can’t equate any numbers to tolls because they don’t have them. Even if you take the revenue that was established by tolls in the past, the ones they spent on everything but transportation and roads, and base them to today’s economy, it doesn’t even come close to what they need. Not to mention the payback on the toll structures themselves ,which is in the billions. Then we have to deal with the cost of annual upkeep and man power. Yeah, more state jobs.

How about the tolls themselves? Well, while everyone is getting excited about “not the same old tolls,” “not the same danger” or that new buzz term “border tolls,” here is another hole in the fairytale. Overhead tolls are not an option. Connecticut does not have reciprocity arrangements with all other states, which means structures built on our roads. It also means tolls will be on all our roads, not just borders, because that is illegal — tolls must be on all state roads.

You see, the goal is to get everyone excited about an easy fix to our transportation issues and then, once you get all excited, and tell them to move ahead, it will be too late and you will be paying the bill. We are not talking some little road repair. We are talking about $300 million of neglect. On every state road, every day of your life; you will be the target of the state machine, a standing target every time you stop or coast through a toll booth. Putting you, your teen drivers, your elderly parents, your family in danger — and paying for the privilege to do so.

So while the governor and his supporters keep trying to tell you that 75% of the tolls will be paid for by out of state travelers, the reality is it will be borne mostly by state residents.

Tell them no! Tell them to do their job and be responsible about it. Cut excess spending and overlapping departments and positions. Cut unnecessary programs and stop padding the pockets of supporters. They work for you and their mistakes should not be your responsibility or put your life in danger in the process.

Cindy Penkoff