The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is ramping up efforts to collect the 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Chairman David Darlington said there are 750,000 records of drivers who have crossed the bridge without being charged. Now the authority is ready to collect.

If you have an E-ZPass, it will be charged. If you don’t own an E-ZPass and have crossed the Sakonnet Bridge fewer than 25 times, you will not receive a bill. But after you make that 25th trip, the authority will send out a bill of at least $2.50.

A worker who fell from the Mt Hope Bridge Tuesday has died, according to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.

OSHA/Rhode Island director Patrick Griffin said a worker fell 30 feet while scaffolding was being removed after a painting job.  The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said it was 70 feet. He landed on the deck of the bridge.

The accident happened at around 8:30am Tuesday and was reported to OSHA at 9:00 am.

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.

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.

The Sakonnet River Bridge

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Governor Lincoln Chafee’s keeping mum on whether he would veto legislation that keeps tolls off the Sakonnet River Bridge. State Rep. John Edwards of Tiverton says he plans to introduce a bill that keeps the Sakonnet Bridge from transferring over to the state’s Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

Edwards calls the toll a tax and says the state should be able to pay for maintenance with general funds. Chafee says the state needs to pay for maintenance somehow and there are no easy decisions.