A message to the Connecticut messenger

November 14, 2018

Wendy Parker


“Asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission.”

(Unless you get your pants sued off, lose, and the prospect of paying full restitution cripples the state budget to the point of bankruptcy. Of course, you could win, set a precedent, and float on the tolls mega-fleets can and will pay. Until you’re sued again, which is inevitable, because you’re breaking the damn law. Playing silly little lawyer-games until someone forces you to act right is an expensive, exhausting gamble. It’s also unnecessary.)

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m reporting dialogue in my head when I read things like advice Jim Cameron, “The Train Guy,” had for Connecticut Gov.-elect, Ned Lamont. Cameron offers a list of things he would suggest Lamont do and not do, regarding future transportation issues.

This one in particular stood out: “Get going with tolls: We both know they’re inevitable, despite your opponents’ “tolls are a tax” lie during the campaign. Let’s stop losing revenue to out-of-staters and truckers and make them pay for driving on our roads. Start with tolling trucks, though I doubt that’s legal.”

(Insert opening internal dialogue and it probably makes a lot more sense. I will not say the same for Mr. Cameron’s suggestion to “make them pay … though I doubt it’s legal.”)

C’mon, Jim. For real, though? I realize this is a hypothetical letter, but seriously man. Do we really need to introduce you to commercial trucking and the issues other states have had with implementing truck-only tolls?

And yes, we believe it is possibly illegal. At the very least, it is in poor form to enact arbitrary tolls for use of roadways to which commercial vehicles already contribute federal and state tax in excess of $40 billion a year.

Your state shouldn’t have to be sued to know this. The problem, sir, is not with the trucking industry being “made to pay.” The problem is with an inept government that can’t budget its money on either level properly. The transportation lock-box you’re fond of speaks volumes to this.

Trucking pays plenty in taxes. They pay their fair share to use the roads, and unless you’re offering some other service or perk to use a highway, like a truck-only dedicated lane, you’re asking them to pay fees on top of taxes to state agencies to use roads they’ve already paid to use.

Not only do they pay, they make your special little slice of heaven habitable. Commerce of any kind requires trucks. You can love trains all you want, but trains need trucks to complete the process.

Why not work in concert instead of immediately having to take a defensive stance? If you’re just itching to spend some lawyer-money, sue the jerks who can’t keep their hands off transportation funds for transportation projects.

Fun fact about Connecticut. According to the official state website, in 1670 the first survey for the first turnpike in America, between Norwich and New London, happened in Connecticut.

(Pssst…that was about 200 years before the railroad was a “thing.” State Route 32 remains in use today.)