The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority approved new tolls that make crossing the Sakonnet and Newport Pell bridges cheaper for drivers who own a Rhode Island E-ZPass.
Having that E-ZPass means paying a $.75 toll on the Sakonnet, while drivers without an E-ZPass will pay $5.25. It also allows owners to make an unlimited number of trips across either the Sakonnet or Newport bridges in one day, and only be charged for one round trip.
Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chairman David Darlington said the goal is to get more Rhode Island E-ZPass transponders on the roads.
“And having tolls that don’t require personnel there, which is a very expensive means of collecting tolls, means everyone pays less cost to have the tolls in place,” said Darlington.
The Turnpike and Bridge Authority also voted to allow out-of-state drivers to own a Rhode Island E-ZPass. Tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge are expected to kick in mid-July.
Darlington said tolls are needed to pay for upkeep on the Sakonnet, Newport Pell, Mt Hope and Jamestown bridges. Opponents say nearby residents get stuck paying the most of the tolls.
Legislation pending would remove tolls and tack a fee onto a driver’s license and registration as a way to fund bridge maintenance.