Trolls against tolls take over Capitol lawn

HARTFORD --  The debate over adding tolls to Connecticut highways continues to divide the state.

Some protesters spread 72 cardboard trolls across the State Capitol front lawn Tuesday morning to troll lawmakers who support the idea.

“This would be a billion dollars a year, 70 percent of it paid by our states residents,"said Yankee Institute for Public Policy President Carol Platt Liebau.

Members of the organization said that’s how much a Connecticut Department of Transportation proposal to add 72 electronic toll gantries along state highways would cost.

“We need to see the evidence that they are willing to get serious about the cost,” Liebau said.

“Well how do you want to pay for our infrastructure than?” said Rep. Tony Guerrera (D-Rocky Hill). “Tell me what you want to do to pay for our infrastructure? Are you telling me you want to raise the gas tax?”

Guerrera and other supporters, including Governor Dannel Malloy, insist tolls will help with funding transportation projects as well as tackling the predicted deficit, which they said taxes alone cannot do.

However, the idea isn’t very popular among the state’s drivers

“I think there’s other ways they can go about it instead of putting on tolls and hitting everybody,” said August Phillips of East Windsor. “It’s just going to be too much.”

“Once they start tolls they can go up and up and up,” said Gordon Liburd of Cheshire. “So I’d be against it completely.”

The Yankee Institute said the idea of 72 toll gantries comes from a 2015 Department of Transportation study.

Guerrera said the number is baseless.

“That is not our plan,” he said. “It’s never been our plan and that’s why if you look at the legislation that has come out of the transportation committee that does not state that plan.”

Regardless, as long as tolls are still on the table, it may not be a matter of if, but when they’ll make a return to Connecticut.

“It is time for the politicians to do their part,” Liebau said.

Guerrera said officials are looking into installing tolls gantries along I-84, I-91, I-95, The Merrit Parkway and the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

However, he said there are still many questions the Department of Transportation has to answer before that happens.