Connecticut has been without tolls for two decades. Like all states, Connecticut is short of money and struggles with congestion on some of its highways. The advent of electronic tolling has caused people to reconsider whether tolling might have a place in Connecticut again, either as a way to fund needed improvements or through a new idea called congestion pricing.
A complicating aspect of this study is that Connecticut is not building much in the way of new highways or bridges, nor is likely to do so in the future. With only a few exceptions (such as HOT lanes or express toll lanes) this means that any new tolling or congestion pricing would entail putting tolls on roads that had previously been toll free.
This makes matters complicated, because this changes the rules. Housing and work location decisions that had been made with one set of rules now would have a different set of rules. Although the net result of a tolling or congestion project may be positive, there are likely to be perceived winners and losers particularly in the short term before the benefits of the toll revenue can be realized through improvements to the transportation system. And the rules might change for some people (in one corridor, for example) and not for others.
In some cases, the question of how toll revenue is spent (for example, on highway and/or transit improvements on a specific facility or region) can compensate the losers, but current laws may hinder the State’s ability to broadly redistribute toll revenue. Short-term impacts caused by diversion from tolled to untolled routes may reach a new equilibrium over time as people adjust their lives to the new rules, but the short-term impacts will be seen as real enough.