Sakonnet River Bridge

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is gearing up to demolish the old Sakonnet River Bridge. The old, truss bridge was built back in the 1950’s after Hurricane Carol washed away the stone bridge linking Aquidneck Island to Tiverton.

It was replaced in 2012 with a new span that caused a bit of a stir over tolling. 

Removing the defunct bridge requires permitting, said RIDOT’s deputy chief engineer Robert Smith, because it’s going to take explosives to bring it down.


The usual special interest groups are blasting the new state budget approved by the General Assembly. But RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says maybe lawmakers did  the best they could in tough times.

Rhode Island’s General Assembly has approved an $8.7 billion taxing and spending plan for the financial year that begins July First. This budget has drawn fire from the usual suspects who roam the marble Statehouse corridors lobbying for their causes.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee says he plans to sign into law the $8.7 billion budget passed Monday by the Rhode Island Senate. Senators took less than an hour to passing the spending plan on a 32-to-five vote.


Lawmakers are set to begin their annual marathon session this Thursday to vote on a budget for the fiscal year starting July first. The $8.7 billion spending plan eliminates tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he’s gotten only positive feedback about the spending plan. The budget cuts the corporate tax rate from 9 to 7 percent and raises the exemption for the inheritance tax. The spending plan also includes $12.3 million to continue paying back investors in 38 Studios.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The House Finance Committee is expected to vote this Thursday on a new state budget for the fiscal year beginning July first. The General Assembly traditionally makes significant revisions to the governor’s proposed spending plan.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to create a new Rhode Island infrastructure fund that would eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, the bill faces several hurdles to take effect.

The legislation unanimously passed by the Senate Finance Committee would generate 800 million dollars over 10 years for keeping up roads and bridges. Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed calls the bill a long-term approach, starting next year, for improving the state’s decaying infrastructure.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Representative Michael Marcello (D-Scituate), who lost the battle last month to succeed Gordon Fox as House speaker, says he's unsure if members of the faction that backed him will try to increase their numbers by supporting primary challengers this September.

A state representative says he's outlived one Sakonnet River Bridges in his lifetime. He's concerned about whether the state will find the funds to maintain the current one.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment, The Bottom Line.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and guest panelist Erika Niedowski of The Associated Press join Bonus Q+A this week to discuss changes in the RI House; the proposed pension settlement; whether the House should vote on a proposal to restore state Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly; and much more.

State Representative John "Jay" Edwards (D-Tiverton) joins Bonus Q+A this week to talk about tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; why RI's roads and bridges are in such poor repair; whether the General Assembly is doing enough to boost the economy; the political fallout from 38 Studios; and much more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Representative John "Jay" Edwards joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; the Statehouse debate over guns; fallout from the Cranston parking ticket scandal; and the proposed state pension settlement.

Ryan T. Conaty

The head of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is warning lawmakers that if they extend a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge, then it may need to return the bridge to the state.

In a letter to lawmakers authority chairman David Darlington said pushing the expiration of the Sakonnet’s 10-cent toll from April 1st to July 1st may force the authority to consider returning the Sakonnet and Jamestown bridges to the state and raise tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge.


The House Finance Committee will take up legislation Tuesday centered on funding bridge repair and keeping tolls off the Sakonnet River Bridge. Lawmakers also want to hang on to the bridge's current ten-cent toll for a few more months.


Rhode Island’s General Assembly convenes a new session Tuesday. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why this year’s legislature may sound a lot like last year’s.

By now, most of us have cleared our heads of those New Year’s  hangovers. That’s not the case for Rhode Island’s 113 lawmakers.

The 2014 Assembly that convenes tomorrow will resemble nothing so much as the …2013 Assembly. The reason for this is all too evident:  As has too often been the case, the Smith Hill Crowd decided not to decide some big, prickly issues last session.

Republican candidate for governor Ken Block joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the economy, Sakonnet tolls, his view of budget savings, and a host of other issues.