Although it was more or less guaranteed, it is now official. Rhode Island has been approved to build the remaining 10 truck-only toll gantries.
On Thursday, Dec. 20, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced that it had received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to begin construction on 10 truck-only toll gantries. Earlier this year, the state opened the first two of 12 gantries.
Since opening the first two gantries, RIDOT has been waiting on a ruling by FHWA on the environmental assessment. Recently, FHWA issued a finding of no significant impact. The finding gives RIDOT the green light to begin construction of the 10 gantries.
The first of 10 new gantries is expected to be completed and activated by May 2019. The remaining nine truck-only tollgantries will be activated throughout the following year. All gantries are expected to be up and running by May 2020.
Truck-only toll collection at the first two gantries began June 11.
Toll Location 1 is approximately 1 mile north of Exit 2 (Hopkinton/Hope Valley) for the Wood River Valley Bridge on the Richmond/Hopkinton line. Toll Location 2 is approximately 3 miles south of Exit 5 (Route 102) for the Tefft Hill Trail Bridge and Baker Pines Bridge near the Exeter/Richmond line.
Since tolling began at locations 1 and 2, the tolling program has collected nearly $4 million, according to a RIDOT news release. There has been no diversion from the routes as a result of tolling at those locations. The program has tolled more than 1 million vehicles.
About one month after RIDOT opened the first two gantries, the American Trucking Associations, along with three motor carriers, filed a lawsuit against RIDOT Director Peter Alviti claiming the tolls targeting truckers are unconstitutional. Much like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority, ATA is evoking the Commerce Clause.
“This toll regime was designed to, and does in fact, impose discriminatory and disproportionate burdens on out-of-state operators and on truckers who are operating in interstate commerce” the lawsuit states. “By design, the tolls fall exclusively on the types of trucks that are most likely to be engaged in the interstate transport of cargo, while exempting automobiles and the smaller vehicles that are relatively more likely to be engaged in intrastate travel.”
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