Farricker: Bergstein’s Tolling Bill is Unfortunate Example of Governmental Laziness

Submitted by Frank Farricker, former chair of Greenwich DTC

Recently, Sen. Alexandra Bergstein was quoted saying, “Being against tolls is really the same as being against business and growing our economy,” and also, “I know that a majority of constituents in my district favor electronic tolls, they are sophisticated, intelligent and understand the cost of not having tolls.”

Leaving aside the insult against the intellect of constituents who do not agree with Sen. Bergstein, I submit that Sen. Bergstein’s position actually will be of great detriment to her constituents, and belies a lack of vision.

Greenwich, because of its unique geographic position and great cost of living, is highly dependent upon the highways to transport our 2,000-plus teachers and town employees to serve our community. Additionally, those who work in our community for lower wages than can afford living here, who take care of our children, landscape our homes and keep Greenwich Hospital the best in class will be forced to pay onerous tolls on a daily basis. Such a situation will make our town jobs anti-competitive, and if you don’t think those costs will be passed on to you in both the public and private sectors, I believe you are sorely mistaken. As a lifelong proud Democrat, it saddens me that we are looking to solve a problem stemming from decades of government inaction on the backs of the middle class and small businessperson — people who have always been willing to help when asked fairly.

The tolling bill submitted by Sen. Bergstein also strikes me as a rash, unfortunate example of governmental laziness.

I have heard a multitude of great plans over the years to address our infrastructure problems ranging from special $500 annual registrations on in-transit trucks, a fluctuation in gas taxes to benefit from price drops while holding the line on spikes, and more. I applaud the move to more rail, but shouldn’t we eliminate billion dollar boondoggles such as the Walk Bridge in Norwalk before we decide just to gather up a few billion in random, discretionary funds? Connecticut needs vision like never before, and tolling is not that.

I don’t know how tolling became a progressive position for some of my fellow party members. When imposing a cost to use government services, the first position should be the provision of clear proof we are not harming the less fortunate. I see no attempt to even try and show this with the current tolling plan. As a person who considers himself at least a little bit sophisticated and intelligent, I understand clearly the cost of having tolls and I do not believe they should be enacted.