Lamont celebrates Hartford Line, prepares for tolls reboot

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Governor Ned Lamont took the train to work Monday to celebrate an anniversary and he talked more about his tolls plan reboot. 

It was one year ago this week that commuter rail service from New Haven to Hartford to Springfield was launched.  The Governor says that after he meets with legislative leaders this week for his transportation summit,  he will issue his official call for a special session on transportation issues.

The Governor, Lt. Governor and the D.O.T. Commissioner mixed it up with passengers on a busy midday run from New Haven to Hartford today to observe the first anniversary of the new Hartford line service to Springfield.    

Over 630,000 people have used the line in the first year, which is about 50,000 more than had been predicted. 

During an on board interview as the train left Meriden station the Governor saying, “That’s thousands and thousands of fewer cars on our highways congesting, a lot less exhaust on our roads.”

And the administration notes there has been more development along this rail line, including both housing and commercial.  It comes on the week that Lamont is hoping to reboot his effort to get a tolls plan through the legislature.  

He says when he meets with leaders on Wednesday, he’ll say he’s not married to his plan for 50 toll gantries on 95, 91, 84 and the Parkways adding,  “I’m a guy that likes to make a deal.  Let’s get something done.  If you’re telling me 50 is too much and you just can’t get it there but we can do 40 and we can do something reasonable, I’m all ears.”

But the new D.O.T. Commissioner, Joe Giulietti,  says fewer gantries that are separated by more than 6 or 7 miles won’t fly because then the tolls would be higher and that would cause some people to get off the highway to avoid them, clogging up secondary roads. 

“That’s exactly what we don’t want to have happen.  What we want to do, the whole thing behind this is congestion mitigation, to try and relieve traffic congestion in those critical hours,” said Giulietti.

Details are still being worked out for the transportation summit with legislative leaders on Wednesday.   All the leaders from both political parties and their staffs are expected to attend.

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