Response to Jim Cameron: Jim, as a person who really does know the truth, it would benefit us all for you to tell the whole truth, so we can really learn from the past and fix the problem. Past administrations on both sides of the aisle have raided the Special Transportation Fund to the tune of $1.5 billion and counting as raids continue today. If you really want our roads and bridges fixed, first we must stop the raiding.
Once again Connecticut legislators are scouring every crevice for new sources to cover our over-budgeted projects. Monday multiple House Democrats yet again purpose the installation of tolls. State rep. Tony Guerrera , House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, states “I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive.”
Recent reports of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s desire to erect electronic tolling on select state roads is a slap in the face to those who pay taxes in Connecticut and purchase gasoline or diesel fuel for use in their vehicles and equipment. For decades, funds that were legislated to be collected for transportation development and maintenance have been diverted to the General Fund to be used for non-transportation purposes.
Fare hikes, rail service cuts and a freeze on transportation projects. As he promised in December, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced them all last month. Rail commuters and highway drivers are justifiably outraged, but they should direct their anger not at the Governor or Connecticut Department of Transportation but at the legislature.
In news that shouldn’t surprise anybody, Hartford politicians and bureaucrats have spent this past month declaring the state “desperately” needs more money. By now, Connecticut residents attuned to this rhetoric realize that “new revenue sources” just means “more taxes.” The proposed remedy in this case: tolls. DOT Commissioner James Redeker recently toured the state proclaiming that the Special Transportation Fund (STF), money that is funded by one of the highest gas taxes in the country and purportedly reserved solely for transportation, is out of money and only tolls can save it.
Fare increases, reduced train service, less highway snow plowing, postponed construction. All of these and more are on the horizon, say Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut DOT because our Special Transportation Fund (STF) is running dry. I hate to say I told you so, but…
Something like 1.73 million Americans board airplanes ever day. And each of them must go through a very necessary screening by the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration. But beginning late this month, a lot of passengers will be denied boarding because they don’t have the right kind of ID. You can thank (or blame) the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 after 9/11 to make sure people really are who they claim to be. As any teen can tell you, it’s too easy to obtain a fake ID. And if teens can do it, terrorists can also.
We need a serious comparison of the costs and benefits of tolls vs. higher gas taxes. Some obvious issues are…
Costs: It should cost next to nothing to raise gas taxes, while tolls might involve significant capital and operating costs.
Equity: It would seem fair that all drivers pay a share of maintaining and improving roads, not just ones using particular highways.
Contribution from drivers from out-of-state: How would the two options compare?
Congestion pricing: Would a toll system really be put at locations that enable effective congestion pricing? Border tolls would not do so. Could congestion pricing really be fair and effective in a state with limited alternative transportation options and limited number of lanes on highways?
Six words I never thought I’d write: “I feel sorry for Dannel Malloy.”
Sure, we’ve had our differences. And yeah, the governor does have the personality of a porcupine and the disposition of a bully, sometimes. But the man is not evil and he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him now. Nor do we. Our governor is a lame duck. Because he’s announced he’s not running for re-election, he has the political clout of a used teabag. And even though he’s our state’s leader for another 11 months, nobody cares about him or his ideas any longer.
A few updates on some recent items: HYPERLOOP: In July I wrote about tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s idea to build a 700-plus mph tube system to whisk passengers from Washington D.C. to New York City in 29 minutes using a combination of a near-vacuum and linear induction motors. I noted that Musk has yet to build a working full-scale prototype, and called him “the PT Barnum of technology” offering “more hype than hope.”
At the time, Musk had just gone public after a meeting at the White House saying he’d been given “approval” to start boring giant tunnels for his project. I scoffed at the notion, but have been proven wrong.
Tired of driving on potholed roads? Who isn’t? We may not (yet) have tolls, but the terrible condition of our highways takes its toll on our vehicles with bent rims, alignments and other repairs. There are more than 10,000 lane-miles of state highways in Connecticut, of which only 300 are repaved each year. But that work involves more than just slapping a new layer of asphalt on those roads.