Steven Higashide New York, New York Editor's note: The writer is senior planner and state coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
The Day argues that imposing tolls to pay for an extension of Route 11 should be treated as a "separate issue" from statewide transportation funding concerns, "Need for Rte.11 toll," (March 20). But the two are inextricably linked.
According to Connecticut DOT, tolls will likely be insufficient to pay for the state's share of the project. The proposed tolls would be eliminated once construction bonds are retired, putting state taxpayers on the hook for maintaining the new highway. And although the state suggests that federal funds would pay for most of the project, these funds would otherwise be available for other projects.
There's no free lunch when it comes to a $1.4 billion mega project like Route 11. Building the highway would make it much harder for Connecticut to tackle its huge backlog of road and bridge repair needs. Furthermore, extending Route 11 would worsen sprawl in southeastern Connecticut and - like highway expansions elsewhere - fail to solve congestion in the long run. The project can't be justified on its own merits or in the bigger picture.