Today, Tri-State joined a coalition of civic, environmental, and transportation groups that called on elected officials to implement congestion pricing on Connecticut’s roads. The Connecticut Joint Committee on Transportation will hear a congestion pricing bill within the next two days.
Congestion pricing would help alleviate congestion on Connecticut’s creaking road system, ranked fifth-worst in the country in terms of lane conditions. It would generate revenue to maintain and repair existing road and bridge infrastructure as well as free up needed dollars to expand a transit system that saw record ridership in 2008. This latter point is especially important because Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund, which funds Connecticut’s transportation network, stands to be operating at a deficit by the end of 2010.
“In order to meet Connecticut’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, we must address the transportation sector,” said CT Fund for the Environment’s Curt Johnson. “Congestion pricing will help the state move towards a future of increased reliance on public transportation, which will improve our economy and create jobs, keep commerce running, protect our air, and establish the state as a leader in global warming action.”
The groups did not endorse a specific congestion pricing plan. A recent Transportation Strategy Board study identified two potentially promising ideas — converting carpool lanes on I-84 and I-91 to high-occupancy toll lanes, and tolling “congested corridors” like I-95. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, traffic congestion causes Connecticut’s economy to lose $500 million a year due to excess fuel consumption, delays, and loss of productivity.
Tolls were removed from the state’s roads in the mid-1980s after a horrific toll plaza accident in Stratford claimed the lives of 7 people. Any congestion pricing or tolling plan that moves forward will use open-road, barrier-free tolls that do not include plazas.
Ten groups joined the press release, including the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, the MetroHartford Alliance, Regional Plan Association, Connecticut Chapter of Sierra Club, the Connecticut Citizens Transportation Lobby, ConnPIRG, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, CT Association for Community Transportation, and the CT Livable Streets Campaign.
Image: From CT Transportation Strategy Board/Cambridge Systematics study on congestion pricing.