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Editorial: Why Adding Tolls In Connecticut Could Hurt Commuters’ Pockets

by Angela Fortuna and Tyler Roaix

Unlike states such as New York and California, the state of Connecticut currently has no tolls. Soon, this could change.

For Central Connecticut State University students, highways in the area will be affected.

A possible scenario for electronic tolls on route I-84 would put 11 toll electronic “gantries” at different spots between Hartford and the New York border, as outlined by a 2016 state study. Road users passing each toll location during periods with a high volume of vehicles would pay 50 cents per car, but 35 cents per vehicle during hours with light traffic, according to the Hartford Courant.

The state could bring in up to $750 million per year in toll revenue using congestion pricing, according to Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.

Congestion pricing is a “method used to reduce traffic by charging a fee to road users during rush hours,” according to Investopedia. The method charges different fees to drivers throughout different points in the day to try and improve road congestion. Road users will be charged the most during rush hour versus a time in the day where the roads are not that busy, if the method is implemented in the state.

“The only way to achieve that level of revenue would be to put tolls on state roads, including routes 2, 8, 9 and the Merritt Parkway,” Redeker said at a Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth hearing in December, according to the Hartford Courant.

By adding multiple toll checkpoints around the state, state residents will be forced to pay an additional cost when budgeting their commute. Although the tolls do not seem like much, the long-term implications of the additional toll fees add up.

Attending a state university where the majority of students commute, a minor change in budgeting such as multiple 35 to 50 cent toll checkpoints throughout one’s commute can make a major difference.

However, Governor Dannel Malloy said failing to provide new major transportation funding would be “disastrous” for Connecticut’s economy and its taxpayers, according to the Hartford Courant.

According to Malloy’s plan, the tolls could be implemented by as early as 2022.

There’s no doubt the target of adding tolls would be the southwestern part of the state, where many people who work in New York City reside. Having those people commuting and paying CT tolls every day would be a major financial boost for the state.

However, there is no telling how adding tolls, especially in the Hartford-New Britain area, would financially affect the thousands of CCSU students who commute to school daily. Imagine having to pay a dollar or two a day just to drive to campus. It may not sound like much, but over the course of a 16-week semester, it will add up to a lot of money out of your pocket.

It will only make it that much worse for students who are running late to class because they are sitting in traffic trying to get off Route 9. Not only will they be in traffic, but they’ll also have to be paying to be in this traffic.

With Connecticut being in such dire need of funding, especially in transportation, expect an eagerness for Connecticut lawmakers to pass the addition of tolls. While it provides a bump in CT’s wallet, Central commuters will be hurt the most. Gone will be the benefit of saving money living off-campus. That money will go right into the state’s pocket.