Tolls are under widespread discussion, but the high probability of toll evasion is not. It should be, because truckers are likely to dodge gantries.
The governor has overlooked a unique barrier to installation of a toll system in CT: the state’s highways are open-access, while almost all existing toll roads in other states are limited access. The Mass Pike has 24 entry/exit access points over 140 miles – vehicles would have to travel an average of 6 miles to evade a gantry between two exits (they can’t evade, of course, because MA locates tolls at each access point). In contrast, I-95 in CT has 91 access points over 105 miles from Greenwich to Stonington, enabling vehicles to evade tolls by driving just an average of one mile on local roads.
Doubtless Lamont has failed to account for evasion in his revenue projection, but his new revenue projection of $230 million is highly suspect anyway. He’s reducing gantries to 24% of his original – from 50 down to 12. He’s reducing tolled traffic by 95% – trucks account for just 5% of traffic (the large tractor-trailers to be tolled account for even less). Combined that shrinks his toll collection system to just 1.2% of his original system (24% x 5%). Yet, he claims he’s going to collect 29% of the original $800 million of revenue? Yes, trucks would pay higher rates, but enough to offset the 99% reduction in the system? Of course, the higher the governor jacks the rates, the greater incentive he provides truckers to evade the gantries.
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Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.