Connecticut bills would set hefty parkway violation fines

March 6, 2023

Keith Goble

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Large trucks traveling on Connecticut parkways is the topic of multiple bills at the statehouse.

Currently, the state prohibits large trucks from using two parkways along Connecticut Route 15. First-time violators of the truck ban face $90 fines.

Bills receiving consideration at the statehouse are touted to promote public safety and compliance.

The Senate version, SB15, would boost the fine for operators found in violation of the rule. Specifically, fines of $150 would be authorized for any person who operates a commercial vehicle on a state parkway where the vehicle is not allowed. Subsequent violations would result in $500 fines.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, are listed among the bill sponsors and co-sponsors.

Recent hearing on issue

The Joint Committee on Transportation recently held a hearing on the Senate bill.

Bill sponsors explained to committee members that people who have driven on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways know those roads were not built for trucks. They added that the Route 15 parkways were constructed before World War II.

“These roads aren’t even meant to handle the amount of car traffic that they currently experience,” bill sponsors testified. “The lanes are narrow. The historic overpasses are low, and the road curves more than most modern highways.”

Committee members were told there is no excuse for trucks traveling on the affected parkways.

“In this day and age with everyone having easy access to traffic apps, there is no excuse.”

Not done yet

Bill sponsors called on committee members to revise the bill to permit a stiffer punishment.

“We ask that the committee add an additional fine for the trucking companies … They should bear some of the blame for problems caused by their vehicles.”

Specifically, they want to implement a $500 fine for first offenses of trucking companies. Each subsequent violation would result in a $1,000 fine.

A similar House bill, HB6676, would also authorize $500 fines.

Groups oppose higher fines

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut says there is no basis for such an increase.

“There is no evidence to support that an overly aggressive increase equates to a decrease in the number of commercial vehicles on the state’s parkways,” MTAC President John Blair testified.

He added that the state is flush with cash and does not need to take from those working on the margins.

“I would argue that the dollars the state intends to take from the trucking industry through this legislation and the (highway user tax) would be much better spent on our carriers being able to reinvest these dollars in their employees and businesses at large.”

In testimony from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency acknowledges concern about the issue. The department adds that applicable statutes were updated one year ago to authorize “more stringent penalties” for first and subsequent violations.

“This may be an opportunity to address prevention through education instead,” DMV Commissioner Tony Guerrera urged lawmakers.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association also urged lawmakers to exercise restraint.

“While we respect the seriousness of the issue, we feel that increasing the fine for a first offense from $90 to $500 is a drastic and unfair change.”

Instead, the group called for legislators to pursue a $150 fine for first-time offenders.

The bills remain in committee. LL

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