Toll hike could come to Newport Pell Bridge

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority is now focusing on whether tolls need to go up on the Newport Pell Bridge.

The authority just wrapped up public meetings on whether tolls should return to the Mount Hope Bridge linking Bristol to Aquidneck Island. Residents are overwhelmingly rejecting that idea.

Tolls on the Pell Bridge pay for maintenance on both the Pell and Mount Hope bridges. And the authority's board chair David Darlington says the money has to come from somewhere.

"If we have to get all the revenue that we need from the Pell Bridge, then potentially we'd raise the local rate from 83 cents to a dollar, and the out-of-state rate from $4 to $5," says Darlington.

Toll Concerns for the Mount Hope Bridge
Roger Williams University President Donald Farrish says the university will figure out a way to pay for its students if tolls go back on the Mount Hope Bridge. The university spoke out against the proposed toll at Wednesday night's public hearing.

The Mount Hope Bridge links Bristol to Aquidneck Island. And while Roger Williams University's main campus is in Bristol, it has a residence facility across the bridge that houses more than 200 students.

"What we're trying to do is make it as integrated to the campus as we can," says Farrish. "And the idea of a toll every time you go back and forth is antithetical to what we're trying to do in terms of building a community. That's our problem, but it's still a problem." Farrish says students and campus shuttle buses make thousands of trips across the bridge that year, and students shouldn't have to pay those tolls.

The Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority is holding a pair of public hearings on tolls for the Newport Pell Bridge later this month. Darlington says he hopes the RIBTA board will make a decision on the fate of tolls for both bridges by the end of the year.

Want to Go?
Public hearings for the Newport Bell Bridge
October 17th Jamestown Philomenian Library at 7:00pm
October 18th Newport Marriott at 7:00pm

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