April 26, 2019 1:45 PM, EDT

Construction Groups Launch Ad Campaign Supporting Connecticut Tolls

road construction in ConnecticutFamily-Move CT Forward via YouTube

A coalition of groups representing the building and construction industries has launched an advertising campaign in support of Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan for electronic tolling in Connecticut.

Move CT Forward’s 30-second advertisement casts tolls as a more favorable fundraising option than borrowing billions of dollars, raising the fuel tax or doing nothing. Move CT Forward comprises representatives from the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, the Connecticut Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the Connecticut Laborers’ District Council.

Lamont’s plan to post no more than 50 tolling gantries throughout the state has been a point of contention amid constituents, freight haulers and other lawmakers. The purpose of the tolls is to raise money for infrastructure projects to address congestion.

The television commercial, launched April 23 and broadcast across the state, depicts a mother driving her young son around and contemplating Connecticut’s infrastructure needs in a voiceover. The action is interspersed with shots of traffic jams, gaping potholes and construction trucks.

“Connecticut needs to fix our roads now,” the voiceover says. “Our families’ safety depends on it.”

The commercial emphasizes that a large portion of the toll revenue — some 40%, according to Lamont — will be generated by out-of-state drivers. Travelers pass through Connecticut when moving between New York City and Boston, and his proposal aims to capitalize on these drivers. The plan offers discounts for Connecticut EZ-Pass holders and “frequent drivers” who regularly travel on major roadways.

“Tolling is the only proposal that we have seen so far that doesn’t put the Connecticut taxpayers on the hook for 100% of the cost,” Donald Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, told Transport Topics. “It’s caught our attention.”

Shubert participated in the public hearing on tolling held by the state General Assembly’s Transportation Committee on March 6, which stretched on for 11 hours.

Shubert said infrastructure projects made possible through toll money could offer a boost to the state’s construction industry, which has been suffering since the Great Recession. He said he sees members of his association finding work in neighboring states such as Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

Lack of infrastructure investment negatively impacts all jobs in the economic development sector, not just construction work, according to Shubert. He cited a report the Connecticut Construction Industries Association wrote with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association on the economic impact of failing to invest in Connecticut’s infrastructure.

The report, published in September 2017, indicates that losses in highway, bridge and transit construction activity will affect all sectors of the economy. It states that failure to invest in transportation projects would mean that Connecticut businesses will lose nearly $2 billion in sales annually.

2017 CCIA ARTBA EconImpactS... by on Scribd

Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management estimates that many projects, including $30 million in Town Aid Road municipal grants, are in jeopardy if the state doesn’t secure more infrastructure funds.

“Everybody in Connecticut agrees we have a transportation crisis,” Shubert said. “It’s just a matter of how you’re going to pay to fix it.”