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Connecticut DOT Commissioner Voices Support For Tolls To Fund Needed Projects

Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker
Chion Wolf
Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker

Two months after the state Department of Transportation halted more than 400 road projects in Connecticut because of budget issues, there’s still no resolution in sight.

The special transportation fund is broke but the fate of legislation to add new revenues is uncertain.

James Redeker, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, told Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live this is a crisis that could result in bridges closures, fare increases, and service cuts.

“This means canceling projects and doing it quickly -- $4.3 billion of projects in five years,” he said.

As the legislature searches for a fix, Redeker said he supports electronic tolls and an increase in the gas tax. The DOT estimates tolls could bring up to $800 million of revenue. That money would have to be spent on the highway the toll is on.

“They are sustainable, changeable, and fair, I think, because you can collect revenues in a way that makes it fair for everyone who uses the system to pay their share of what it takes maintain it and repair it,” Redeker said.

Without the funding, Redeker said the DOT will increase train and bus fares again and will have to push back projects to alleviate traffic in the state.

Earlier this year President Donald Trump announced his infrastructure plan that would shift the majority of the responsibility for funding from the federal governments to the states.

Trump’s plan rolls out $1.5 trillion but only $200 billion for all of the states to compete for.

Right now the formula for funding is 80 percent from federal government and 20 percent from the states.

“It’s very scary that in 2020 the current formula authorization for transportation and highways expires and I’m not hearing how that is going to be replaced and there’s also a recession of federal funding that would affect Connecticut’s total federal dollars by reducing them in 2020, all on top of what we’re seeing is the crisis of state funding,” Redeker said.

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