‘We’re not gonna be doing tolls. Period’: Historic bipartisan infrastructure bill means no tolls in CT, Lamont says

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Gov. Ned Lamont along with other Connecticut lawmakers traveled to Washington, D.C. for an important ceremony Monday, which will usher in billions of dollars for our state.

President Joe Biden signed his $1 trillion infrastructure deal into law Monday on the White House lawn.

“Now we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will build an economy for the 21st century,” Biden said.

RELATED: Dems end deadlock, House sends Pres. Biden infrastructure bill

The $1.2 trillion plan, which passed the House last week, will bring more than $5 billion in investments to Connecticut. More than half a billion for bridge replacement and repairs, and $3.5 billion for highways.

Never before in state history has Connecticut received such a substantial amount of money from Washington, D.C.

“What this bill means is biggest infrastructure investment since Dwight Eisenhower,” Lamont said. “It will speed up the commute anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. It’s gonna take us five years.”

Reconstructing the Gold Star Memorial Bridge in New London and Groton, updating the 114-year-old Amtrak bridge in Old Saybrook, and the 108-year-old Swing Bridge in Haddam are just a few of the projects that will get underway.

Twenty million dollars will go toward working on bottlenecks on I-84 and I-91 in Hartford as well as on I-91 and I-691 in Meriden will also be a priority, along with widening I-84 in Danbury.

Other projects funded include building more electric vehicle charging stations, expanding internet access, and investments in clean water and airports. Also included, $30 billion for the multi-state northeast rail corridor project.

During a recent taping of “This Week in Connecticut,” with Dennis House, News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina asked Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, “Does this mean your administration will take tolls off the table?”

At the time, Bysiewicz would not definitively say they were.

However, on Monday, Lamont told us, “No, that door is closed, Jodi. We needed that money in order to pay our part for transportation. Now we’ve got other ways to pay for transportation. So we’re not gonna be doing tolls. Period, dead stop.”

Lamont also said the state’s gas tax revenues are coming in strong. The governor added they will more than cover the 20% match the state is required to give the federal government as it leverages the infrastructure funding each year for the next five years.

Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) released the following statement Wednesday in response to Lamont saying he will not pursue tolls or a new gas tax.

“Families are struggling every day to balance their kitchen table budgets. Food is more expensive. Gas prices are surging. Energy is unaffordable. The fact that people are struggling has not stopped CT Democrats from proposing tax increases on low- and middle-income families before. But I am hopeful that this shift in Gov. Lamont’s position is sincere and more than just a campaign promise. I hope he is ready to rally with us and push back against Democrats who continue to push for new taxes on those who can least afford them.

Tolls and the TCI gas tax were never about transportation or the environment. They were about money. There are better ways to achieve cleaner air and make investments in transportation without taking more from taxpayers’ wallets. Republicans have shown that way before. The public has done a phenomenal job speaking out and rallying with us against these new taxes. We will continue to fight for solutions that help working- and middle-class families, that support our environment, and that invest in transportation infrastructure.”

Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford)

The president hopes to use the law to build back his popularity and says it will deliver jobs, clean water, high-speed internet, and a clean energy future. Support for Biden has taken a hit amid rising inflation and the inability to fully shake the public health and economic risks from COVID-19.

A smattering of Republican lawmakers were on hand for what might be one of the last celebratory displays of bipartisanship ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

“My message to the American people is this: America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better,” Biden said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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