Rhode Island backpedals on trucks-only toll plan, still aiming for Class 8 tolls as main bridge funding source

Updated Jan 13, 2016

To toll or not to toll

Rhode Island lawmakers have scaled back a plan to pay for repairs to the state’s infrastructure with a truck-only toll on about two dozen bridges.

On June 2, Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Classes 6 and 7 trucks had been dropped from the RhodeWorks toll proposal introduced last week. Class 8 trucks still would be charged under the 10-year plan, projected to generate an annual $100 million. A new addition to the plan is the stipulation that trucks be charged only once per location per day in each direction.

Truckers reportedly would pay $6 at each tolling location, totaling $40 to $50 to cross the island in one direction. Plan proponents have not indicated tolling locations.

However, electronic tolling would be implemented on bridges on Interstates 95, 195, 295 and 146 Routes 6 and 10.

Toll revenue would pay off a proposed $700 million revenue bond, which would be obtained to reconstruct bridges and prevent additional bridges from further deterioration. The legislature’s finance committees are examining the plan this week before incorporating it into the state budget next week.

As reported earlier this week on Overdrive, trucking groups have vehemently protested the RhodeWorks plan, noting that other I-95 corridor tolls in the northeast charge all vehicles, not just truckers.

The Rhode Island Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association have contacted the Federal Highway Administration, questioning whether the proposed “user fee” would violate federal tolling laws.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity agrees with RITA’s position that financial mismanagement has led to the state’s infrastructure issues and the cost of fixing it should not be shouldered by truckers.