Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority

RIPR FILE

Construction is slated to begin this month on a solid barrier dividing lanes on the Pell Bridge in Newport.  The public has called for a median for years.  

Calls for a median grew louder after a 75 year-old man crossed into oncoming traffic on the bridge on Christmas Eve of 2013, and died of his injuries. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority installed reflective posts along the center of the bridge a year ago.  But they cannot stop cars from crossing into oncoming traffic. 

Ryan T. Conaty

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to install a median barrier along the bridge.

There is currently a line of yellow dividers down the center of the bridge, acting as a kind of visual barrier to keep drivers in their lanes. Those dividers will be replaced with a median barrier to prevent accidents caused by drivers crossing over into on-coming traffic.

Calls for a barrier on the Pell Bridge grew louder back in January after a deadly head-on collision on Christmas Eve.

Ryan T. Conaty

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.

RIPR FILE

The House Finance Committee will take up legislation Tuesday centered on funding bridge repair and keeping tolls off the Sakonnet River Bridge. Lawmakers also want to hang on to the bridge's current ten-cent toll for a few more months.

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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.

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.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Starting this Monday morning, it will cost you a dime to cross the Sakonnet River Bridge.  The toll went into effect at midnight over the objections of protesters.

About 100 people hung over the sides of the Sakonnet River Bridge Sunday evening waving American flags and signs saying “No Tolls” and “Stop the Theft.” Motorists honked in agreement.

A 10-cent toll will go into effect next Monday on the Sakonnet River Bridge.  The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority has not yet established a new policy for collecting the tolls.

The General Assembly set the new 10-cent toll in the closing days of the legislative session earlier this summer. Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chairman David Darlington said the authority needs to gather more information before making a new policy.

Courtesy RI DOT

The state is slated to begin charging a new 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge next Monday.  Yet it’s not exactly clear how the state will collect that money.

The General Assembly added the 10-cent toll, basically as a placeholder, at the end of the legislative session. The legislature took that action because the absence of a toll on the new span could prevent the state from adding one at a later date. State Rep John Edwards of Tiverton says the toll remains unpopular in the East Bay.

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.

RI DOT

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.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said it’s not surprised that a federal judge refused to issue a restraining order to block tolling of the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Because tolling wasn’t part of the original construction plan approved by the Federal Highway Administration, the state had to go back and amend its environmental impact statement. The Town of Portsmouth filed a lawsuit, saying the amended impact statement is flawed. Chairman for the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, David Darlington, said he’s confident the paperwork was properly filed.

The Tiverton Town Council meets Tuesday night to vote on joining Portsmouth and Bristol in challenging the tolls that will be placed on the Sakonnet River Bridge this summer. The seven-member Tiverton Town Council is expected to join the lawsuit.

Just about everybody in Tiverton uses the Sakonnet River Bridge and they’re not one bit happy about the prospect of paying a toll for the privilege starting July 1st.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is working out how much it will charge drivers to cross the new Sakonnet River Bridge. The authority will charge less for drivers with an EZPass.