Letter: Toll scare tactics

To the Editor:
In recent letters, Republicans have complained about the installation of toll booths, and that toll-evading drivers will cut through Ridgefield, adding to traffic. First, “toll booths” will not be installed anywhere. There will be no stopping to pay or even slowing down – all will be done via EZ Pass (or a license plate reader.)
The idea that tolls on I-84 will increase traffic in Ridgefield is a scare tactic. According to consulting firm CDM Smith there will be 5 gantries on I-84 between Danbury and Waterbury. The maximum EZ Pass toll will be $1.49, so each gantry will charge about 30 cents. (Off-peak and commuter discounts will reduce this to 20 cents.) The first eastbound I-84 gantry will be located east of Rt 7. A toll-evading driver would exit I-84 at Exit 2, take Mill Plain Rd and Lake Ave into Danbury and then Main St to re-join I -84 at Exit 5. That driver would save at most 30 cents, and would increase their travel time from 4 minutes to at least 16. Now imagine doing that 5 times between Danbury and Waterbury. The cost of gas will exceed the toll savings, to say nothing of the 80 minutes added to the 30 minute drive.
There are multiple advantages to congestion pricing: First, unlike every other state from Massachusetts to Maryland, out-of-state drivers today pay absolutely nothing to CT.
Second, traffic will flow more smoothly. Bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic means there are too many cars for the road’s capacity. And the effect is not linear: a very small number of cars over capacity will cause stop-and-go conditions. By encouraging even a few drivers to travel at off-peak times, traffic will move more smoothly and safely. 
Another benefit is smooth traffic pollutes much less than stop-and-go traffic. This benefit does not apply to those who believe global warming is a hoax.
Arnold DiLaura
First Lane, Feb. 25