The prospect of a truck toll on I-684 was taken off the table Wednesday after Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont aborted a plan to place tolls at about a dozen locations throughout the state.
Lamont had targeted the 1.4-mile stretch of I-684 between exits 2 and 3 that briefly enters and exits Greenwich as one toll location. The money was to be used toward renovating and rehabilitating Connecticut roads and bridges, including a small bridge over the Byram River on the Connecticut portion of the roadway near where the toll was proposed to be located.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer expressed relief Thursday that Connecticut abandoned the toll, specifically relating to I-684.
“I am pleased to hear that our Connecticut neighbors have decided to end their plans to charge tolls on the one-mile stretch of I-684 on our shared border,” Latimer said in a statement. “My administration – and my colleagues in government – had serious issues with this plan from its inception and even took our case to the Connecticut state capitol to make those issues clear.”
Lamont said at a Wednesday news conference that the Republican-led Senate, which had opposed his toll plan but wanted to dip into the state’s rainy-day fund for road repairs, had planned to filibuster for 30 hours with no guarantee there would be a vote. The Senate also had made no efforts to schedule a vote on its alternative.
He announced that he’ll propose to bond for the money that would have been generated by the tolls.
“I’ve got a legislature that doesn’t want to make a decision when it deals with a problem that we’ve had, unfortunately, in this state for over a generation, that’s our deteriorating roads and bridges and rail,” Lamont said.
A concerted effort by a large group of Westchester officials protested to Lamont and Connecticut lawmakers about the proposed I-684 toll. They argued that it would unfairly tax New York truckers and businesses on a highway that is overwhelmingly used by New Yorkers. Another concern would be that once the technology was installed, it could easily be changed to include passenger cars.
The Town of North Castle would have likely been most impacted, particularly if trucks would have used alternate routes to avoid the toll by getting off at Exit 2 and taking Route 120 to northbound Route 22. Another option would have been for trucks coming from I-287 to head north through North White Plains potentially adding traffic to an already congested hamlet.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he was happy to hear the news and that “our efforts were meaningful and effective.” However, he remained cautious because it’s uncertain whether the plan could be resurrected.
During a Jan. 31 public hearing in Hartford, officials from Westchester, including North Castle, appealed to a state Assembly committee to reconsider the I-684 toll. Aside from generating more traffic on local roads, town officials pointed out New York State has been paying for road maintenance, plowing and emergency services along that one-plus mile stretch under a 1966 agreement between the two states. The agreement also obligated Connecticut to structurally maintain the small bridge in the Greenwich portion of the roadway.
State Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), whose district includes North Castle, said she was pleased to hear about Lamont’s decision.
“Thank you to the many elected officials and advocates who made it clear that a Connecticut toll on I-684 would disproportionately impact New Yorkers and would be an inappropriate way to make infrastructure policy,” Mayer said. “We share a commitment with Gov. Ned Lamont to improve road and rail infrastructure, and we hope to work collaboratively in the future on making these improvements.”
State Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro) said Lamont’s decision was welcome news for area business owners and residents. However, he urged both states to engage in discussions regarding regional transportation solutions.