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Dozens of toll opponents and proponents show up at Capitol

December 18, 2019 GMT
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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, left, answers questions from the media following a meeting of the State Bond Commission, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. A group of mostly Fairfield County residents hold signs, right, showing their support for tolls. The contentious issue of how to fund transportation improvements in the state is expected to be taken up in a special session of the General Assembly in January. (AP Photo/Susan Haigh)
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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, left, answers questions from the media following a meeting of the State Bond Commission, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. A group of mostly Fairfield County residents hold signs, right, showing their support for tolls. The contentious issue of how to fund transportation improvements in the state is expected to be taken up in a special session of the General Assembly in January. (AP Photo/Susan Haigh)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers aren’t expected to vote until next month on a transportation plan that could include tolls, but both opponents and supporters of tolls turned out Wednesday to make their opinions known.

Dozens of activists holding signs and wearing pro-tolls and anti-tolls T-shirts appeared at the Legislative Office Building, where the State Bond Commission was meeting. While toll opponents have frequently appeared at the state Capitol during the monthslong debate over tolls, it’s been rare to see toll supporters other than unionized construction workers.

Shiva Sarram of New Canaan said the group of toll supporters, mostly from Fairfield County, included Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. She said they decided to come to the Capitol and send a message that it’s time for Connecticut to finally start collecting transportation revenue from out-of-state drivers who use the state’s roads.

“What exactly are we waiting for,” she asked. “Why are we allowing cars and vehicles from other states to drive our roads without paying us a dollar, when we drive across state lines everyday and pay them. So we’re not waiting another ten years. This needs to get done now.”

Toll opponents were not fazed by the sudden turnout of toll supporters, noting they were from the southwest corner of Connecticut.

“They want trains, they want tolls. And what about the rest of the state,” asked Jen Ezzell of Lisbon. “I’m not spending their money. They’re looking to spend mine.”

While lawmakers were at the state Capitol on Wednesday for a special session, transportation was not on the agenda.

No date in January has been set yet for a vote on a proposed 10-year plan to improve roads, bridges, airports, rail and bus service. While Lamont and Democratic lawmakers appear to be galvanizing around the idea of tolling only big trucks on at least a dozen bridges, many of the toll supporters on Wednesday said they support tolling all passenger vehicles as well — something Lamont has been unable to persuade the General Assembly to support.