Feds call Connecticut’s statewide tolls proposal ‘new territory’

No state has attempted what Connecticut is now in the early stages of promoting: Devising a plan to install tolling on existing highways throughout the state, as opposed to placing tolls on a single road, bridge or tunnel.

“I think this is new territory for all of us,” said Cynthia L. Essenmacher, the tolling program manager at the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Innovative Finance Support.

Retro-fitting an old interstate highway system with tolls is a complex undertaking, especially when most of the system was constructed with federal funds. The Lamont administration would like to install tolls on its three major interstates: 84, 91 and 95, plus the cars-only Merritt Parkway.

Essenmacher said in a telephone interview that Connecticut is not the only state exploring using electronic tolls to finance the reconstruction, modernization or expansion of highways on a regional scale, but none has come forward with a detailed, statewide plan for review by the federal government.