Senate Committee Votes To Eliminate Sakonnet River Tolls

May 7, 2014

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.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in the Finance Committee.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

"Perhaps the most significant financial contribution is 0.25 percent of the state’s annual appropriation will immediately go to the fund in 2016, and then will increase each year annually by one-quarter of a percent." said Paiva Weed.

Paiva Weed said she hopes the bill would encourage the state Turnpike and Bridge Authority to skip a planned toll increase on the Sakonnet Bridge. The House has its own plan for maintaining the state’s infrastructure, and it’s not yet clear how the differences between the House and Senate plans will be reconciled.

The full Senate is expected to take up the infrastructure funding formula Wednesday.

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