Lamont says tolls bill is “ready to go”, top lawmaker says not

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Governor Ned Lamont is anxious to get a highway tolls bill before state lawmakers for a vote.  He says his plan is ready but a top state lawmakers says there’s no plan to vote on.

The Charter Oak Exit ramp on I-91 North in Hartford is a perpetually traffic jammed highway bottleneck that has been slated for a complete re-construction job over the next 30 months.

Governor Lamont chose a spot near the chronic commuter headache to conduct what amounted to a campaign rally for highway tolls. He was joined by business leaders and labor union members who all support imposing tolls to pay for transportation projects and said, “We have a bill that we put together, a bill that’s ready to go. I’d call the bill, I’d get it out there and give people a chance to vote on this.”

Related: Governor Lamont addresses CT transportation system problems and congestion

Senator Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) is the co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. He’s on the inside of negotiations on this issue. He said Friday, there is no bill to vote on. He added, “We’re not quite there, we still have to file the bill and until we file the bill, there’s not a bill ready to run.”

Lamont is telling lawmakers his toll rate would be 4.4 cents per mile at peak driving times but it could be as high as 5.7 or as low as 3.1. He says there will be all kinds of discounts for commuters, caregivers and parents going to soccer practice but there’s no specifics.

He also says people that don’t have credit cards or checking accounts will be able to load their highway toll transponders with cash at convenience stores.

Related: Metro North upgrades are causing longer commutes

Sen. Leone says, “We’re talking about all of them and some of them may make it in the final draft.  We’re just trying to come up with full agreement.”

That means Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate, along with the Governor must all agree on how this is going to work. As one person close to this said on Friday, there is no bill, there’s just concepts.

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