The head of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is warning lawmakers that if they extend a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge, then it may need to return the bridge to the state.
In a letter to lawmakers authority chairman David Darlington said pushing the expiration of the Sakonnet’s 10-cent toll from April 1st to July 1st may force the authority to consider returning the Sakonnet and Jamestown bridges to the state and raise tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge.
Road crews have begun installing hundreds of dividers down the center of the Pell Bridge in Newport. About five hundred three-foot yellow posts will stretch the two mile span.
Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Director David Darlington said the dividers will not keep people from crossing into oncoming traffic, but should help keep those accidents from occurring in the first place.
The Newport City Council approved a resolution urging the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority to install a center barrier. The move by the Council follows a fatal head-on collision that took place on the Pell Bridge on Christmas Eve.
In the incident, police say a 75-year-old man swerved into oncoming traffic. He later died of his injuries.
Newport joins Middletown and Jamestown in approving the resolution. All of Newport County has been asked to do the same.
The families of two people who died in a head-on crash on the Pell Bridge will file a wrongful death suit today against the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and other state entities. The filing of the lawsuit comes on the second anniversary of the fatal crash.
On October 21, 2011 Kenny Prior and Kathy Meunier were driving across the Claiborne Pell Bridge when their vehicle was hit head-one by a car that crossed the median. Both died as a result of their injuries.
Although court challenges are still in the pipeline, a federal judge’s refusal to block tolling of the Sakonnet River Bridge makes it increasingly likely that tolls will be collected, starting early next month. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is taking steps to reduce the cost of tolls.
For a limited time beginning June 25th, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority will discount the cost of an E-ZPass transponder. The usual price of $20.95 will be cut to $10 and the Authority will apply a $10 credit to the E-ZPass account.