The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) urged Connecticut residents to be wary of the state’s plan to study tolling of state highways citing a long history of tolling studies that have misled policymakers into thinking tolls are practical infrastructure funding solution, when in fact, they are not.
In an editorial published in the Hartford Courant, “Beware: Toll Studies Overpromise Riches,” ATFI sharply criticized Connecticut’s State Bond Commission for approving $10 million to study tolling in the state arguing that toll studies historically have over-promised riches while projects ultimately under-delivered. Furthermore, years after the projects failed, there was no accountability for the consultants whose analysis helped to get the tolls built, ATFI wrote.
Citing Robert Bain, an analyst for bond-rating agency Standard & Poor’s, ATFI said, the tolling “process in general — and bid evaluation criteria specifically — reward high traffic and revenue forecasts, not accurate ones.” New tolls tend to suffer from substantial optimism bias, with predicted traffic volumes exceeding actual volumes by 30 percent or more about half of the time, according to researchers at the University of Texas.
ATFI further criticized Connecticut for holding up Rhode Island’s new truck-only tolls as an example of successful tolling when in fact that state is currently being sued for an arguably unconstitutional tolling scheme.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), along with Cumberland Farms Inc., M&M Transport Services Inc. and New England Motor Freight, in mid-July asked a federal court to rule Rhode Island’s RhodeWorks truck-only toll scheme unconstitutional, arguing it discriminates against interstate trucking companies and impedes the flow of interstate commerce.
ATFI’s statements were made in response to an editorial in The Courant “For Guidance on Tolls, Look to Rhode Island” that disregarded the failed history of state-sponsored tolling studies and glossed over the hotly debated tolling legislation that died in this year’s session.
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