Tolls on Connecticut highways are one step closer to reality. The legislature’s Transportation Committee recently gave the “green light” to the state Department of Transportation to begin the 4-year process of planning to reintroduce the controversial devices.
Tolls were phased out over 30 years ago on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway, following a deadly accident at the Stratford turnpike plaza. New tolls would be electronic.
In their previous incarnation, there were tollbooths on I-95 near the Westport-Norwalk border. But they were not the first in the area.
In 1806 the state General Assembly granted a charter to the Connecticut Turnpike Company. They ran the road from Fairfield to Greenwich — today known as the Post Road.
In return for keeping the thoroughfare in “good repair,” they were allowed to establish 4 turnpike gates. One was at the Saugatuck River crossing — now known as the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
Four-wheeled pleasure carriages drawn by 2 horses were charged 25 cents. Two-wheeled pleasure carriages drawn by one horse paid 12 cents. Each sled, sleigh, cart or wagon drawn by a horse, ox or mule was charged 10 cents.
The state granted exemptions for people traveling to attend public worship, funerals, town or freemen’s meetings; those obliged to do military duty; “persons going to and from grist mills with grists”; people living within 1 mile of the toll gates, and “farmers attending their ordinary farming business.”
However — for reasons that are unclear — those exemptions applied only to the 3 other toll gates. The Saugatuck River bridge was not included.
Astonishingly, the toll for automobiles over 150 years later was still 25 cents.
I bet that won’t be the base rate
if when the new tolls are installed.