Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee isn't backing away from the state's placement of tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, despite sharp opposition from residents and business owners in the East Bay.

Chafee says he understands the toll is unpopular and that many people are economically squeezed, but he calls the approach necessary.

"Unless there's a better way to maintain our bridges, which there hasn't been yet, I won't pass on future costs to our children and grandchildren," Chafee said Thursday during a taping of RIPR's Political Roundtable.

Welcome back to my Friday column. As always you can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get started.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Pablo Rodriguez joins the Roundtable this week as we discuss ongoing mediation over Rhode Island's pension lawsuit; the start next week of a 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge; Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin's decision to become a Republican; and the US Justice Department stepping away from mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.

The head of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said it’s going to take some time to figure out how to collect tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge from drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass.

A toll gate will collect tolls electronically, with an extra fee tacked on for drivers who lack an E-ZPass and need a bill sent in the mail. But since the toll is now only a dime, Turnpike and Bridge Authority chairman David Darlington said they’ll have to find a cost-effective way to send those bills.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says it’s worried that a toll freeze on the Sakonnet River Bridge may violate promises the authority made in previous bond sales.

When the Turnpike and Bridge Authority put bonds up for sale, it made a promise to bond buyers that it would not take on assets that didn’t come with a revenue stream. That way, says Chairman David Darlington, the authority doesn’t get loaded down with bridges it can pay for. He says delaying tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge puts the Turnpike and Bridge Authority in conflict with those promises.