CT Legislature Moves on Vulnerable User, Amended Toll Bills

The committee reported out a bill to direct ConnDOT to create a detailed plan for tolls. Tolls would have to be all-electronic, like the high-speed toll gantries on Houston's Westpark Tollway (above).

Connecticut’s Joint Committee on Transportation reported several bills out of committee earlier this week, including a Tri-State supported bill to increase penalties for careless driving and an amended bill directing ConnDOT to prepare a plan to implement electronic tolls.

The first bill, known as “vulnerable users” legislation, would establish new penalties for careless driving which results in the injury or death of a pedestrian, cyclist, skater, highway worker, or driver of an agricultural vehicle. Convicted drivers would be required to take safety classes, perform at least 100 hours of community service, and pay a fine of up to $5,000. It passed the Committee overwhelmingly, by a 30-6 vote.

The bill is spearheaded by livable streets champion Representative Thomas Kehoe of Glastonbury, who noted after the vote that “vulnerable users always lose in an accident.  Although we must all act responsibly, motorists need to keep a special look out and anticipate where non-motorized users might be. This bill complements the Complete Streets Law … and will promote safer streets that encourage people to walk, exercise and use mass transit and which makes our cities and towns more viable and its citizens healthier.”

In a much tighter vote, the Transportation Committee also reported out an amended bill to direct ConnDOT to develop a plan for implementing electronic tolls on Connecticut’s roads.  Tri-State testified against the original bill, which called for electronic tolls only at Connecticut’s borders and would have faced constitutional challenges.  The new language also means that ConnDOT now has the flexibility to make reducing congestion a priority in its toll study.

Both bills now need to make their way through other relevant committees in the Connecticut General Assembly before full votes can be taken in the House and Senate.

Two smart bills that did not make it out of committee this year would have established a statewide red light camera pilot program and a competitive grant program for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

Image: ASCE Houston.

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