WATERBURY — It’s the tale of two plans to shore up Connecticut’s roads and bridges. The Republican borrowing plan and the Governor’s toll plan. Both would fund the projects in different ways.
The Governors plan is tolling to fix the roads and bridges, plus bonding for school construction and other things. The Republican plan only calls for bonding but it prioritizes for infrastructure.
The Governor Ned Lamont toll road show stopped in Waterbury Friday where the Wendell Cross Elementary School is about to break ground on $46-million dollar new school. Governor Lamont says it’s the type of project the Republican plan wouldn’t fund. “The Republican plan would add 700-million a year in additional bonding right on the backs of Connecticut taxpayers and their kids, with interest. Ours takes transportation right off the table paid for by users and not the taxpayers of Connecticut,” said Lamont.
But Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano says their plan sets aside $500-million annually for school construction. “The Republican proposal would actually offer greater flexibility and potential funding for schools than the governor’s proposal,” he said.
The Governor says tolls would be tied to a 5-cent reduction in the gas tax. “I think it is true. I think that’s in the bill. We are ready for the Senate and House Leadership to release the bill so everybody can see it,” said Lamont. He says the business community is with him.
Sean Sherman owns Sherman’s Tap House in Southington. “Tolls will just add to the fuel cost. They’ll build that right in we know that from the start but also not just the distributors but also my employees, anyone having to travel. I do have a few employees who come from a bit further away and that will affect them.” And people worry the installation of electronic tolling will take its own toll on traffic. Heidi Kelly of Southington said, “It’s hard enough going around the roadwork in general. I drive I-84 a lot. It’s really going to cause a nightmare and the traffic is going to be unbearable.”
The Republican plan calls for borrowing, prioritizing, studying, forging public private partnerships and immediately fixing the 5 worst bridges. Rep. Themis Klarides, (R) House Minority Leader said, “You are not taking money out of peoples pockets and you are able to fund and invest in transportation immediately.”
Governor Lamont told Fox 61 the leaders of the house, senate, and transportation committee have the draft of the bill and he’s encouraging them to reveal it as soon as possible. He says he wants to answer every question.