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.
Governor Lincoln Chafee joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss whether RI Democrats are doing enough to move the economy forward; tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; NSA surveillaince; education policy; and why his poll ratings are so low.
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.
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.
Residents and merchants in the East Bay are sharply opposing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Local lawmakers have joined them in asserting the tolls will hurt the economy in communities near the bridge.
The town of Portsmouth is continuing to challenge the imminent imposition of tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.
The town is appealing a federal court decision issued last week which allowed the tolling to proceed. Portsmouth town solicitor said they’ve asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals for an expedited ruling on their request for an injunction because the tolls are scheduled to start next month.
The House Finance Committee is slated Tuesday to consider a bill to block a toll planned for the Sakonnet River Bridge. The legislation would use a different approach to pay for bridge maintenance.
Legislation co-sponsored by state Representative John Edwards uses increased vehicle inspection fees and other sources to pay for keeping up bridges. The bill would also expand the oversight of the state Turnpike and Bridge Authority to cover all bridges longer than 700 feet.