HARTFORD, Conn. (WCBS 880/AP) — A bill that would allow for tolls to return to some Connecticut highways cleared a key legislative hurdle Friday.

On a 23-12 vote, the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee approved a bill that would allow tolls on new state highways or highway extensions, such as the proposed completion of Route 11 in southeastern Connecticut.

Members of the southeastern Connecticut delegation have pushed for the legislation as a way to help pay to finish Route 11, a project that has been stalled for years.

Fran Schneidau speaks with State Representative Tony Guerrera about the potential tolls

The bill would not be mandatory.

Some Republican members of the committee said although they understand the desire to finish Route 11, they fear the bill could ultimately lead to tolls elsewhere in the state and possibly someday along existing stretches of highway.

Democrat State Representative Tony Guerrera, co-chair of the transportation committee, has proposed another bill that would allow  electronic highway tolls elsewhere in Connecticut to help raise much-needed state revenue for transportation expenses.

Guerrera said border tolls would raise upwards of $600 million a year for Connecticut’s roads and highways. He believes that with the state in a financial jam, sentiment for tolls was changing.

“Four years ago, people didn’t even want to look at it.  Today, they know that we’ve got a crisis on our hands,” he told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau.

The lawmaker said under his bill, Connecticut residents who lived near the state’s borders would be given a break.  They would likely pay around $1 to go through the tolls, while the fee for others would be between $3-5.

SOUND-OFF: How would adding tolls on new roads and highways in Connecticut affect you? Let us know in the comments section.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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