For Out-Of-State Drivers Ignoring Tolls, Massachusetts Says Connecticut Motorists Are The Worst | Connecticut Public Radio

For Out-Of-State Drivers Ignoring Tolls, Massachusetts Says Connecticut Motorists Are The Worst

Jan 28, 2019

Connecticut drivers are the worst. At least when it comes to skipping out on highway tolls in neighboring Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Turnpike switched to all-electronic tolling in 2016. That means if you have an E-Z pass, it’s scanned and you’re automatically charged. If not, your license plate is logged and you’re mailed a bill.

But not everyone pays it.

Since 2016, the MassDOT says out-of-state drivers racked up $26.8 million in unpaid tolls. Of that, $20.7 million has been delinquent for more than 90 days.

According to the MassDOT, the worst out-of-state offenders come from Connecticut, with that state’s drivers accounting for nearly one-quarter of those unpaid out-of-state tolls.

In an email, Patrick Marvin with the MassDOT, said his agency estimates “approximately 4 to 5% of total tolling revenue” goes uncollected. He said those estimates are worked into planning operations, maintenance, and capital programs.

Since the introduction of all-electronic tolling, MassDOT has collected more than $850 million in total tolling revenue. In that time period, Marvin said more than 2.5 million out-of-state customers made at least one payment after receiving a bill in the mail.

Part of this has to do with agreements. The MassDOT has arrangements with Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island to block license renewals or registrations if tolls are delinquent.

But it hasn’t worked that out with Connecticut.

Such arrangements are one of many things lawmakers in Connecticut will need to consider as the state once again entertains the idea of tolls.

This month, state Senator Alexandra Bergstein, a Democrat representing Greenwich, introduced legislation to set up tolls on major state highways, but draft language has yet to be released.

A recent DOT study estimated Connecticut could raise more than one billion annually through tolls.

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont campaigned on the idea of tolls, but only for heavy trucks.

That’s an idea playing out right now in Rhode Island, which launched an electronic tolling program for tractor-trailers on two locations on I-95 in June.

So far the Rhode Island DOT says those two locations are exceeding revenue projections, but the idea has been challenged by the trucking industry in federal court.

Clarification: A previous version of this story reported the Rhode Island DOT says its electronic tolling program is exceeding revenue projections. The story has been updated to specify that the two operational tolling gantries are exceeding revenue projections.