Turnpike director fired for cutting carriers a break on tolls

| 4/14/2006

The Rhode Island Turnpike & Bridge Authority Board of Directors voted earlier this week to fire the authority’s executive director.

Kenneth Bianchi, now the former director, was called out for playing favorites with five trucking companies, allowing them to cross the Claiborne Pell Bridge for a fraction of what other companies and truckers had been paying.

The Associated Press reported that Bianchi, hired six years ago, inherited the arrangement from a former director, who charged four companies $5 to cross the bridge instead of the usual $25 to $50 fee.

But Bianchi, according to The AP, didn’t end the agreements when he took over. He instead approved the cheaper rate for a fifth company.

David Darlington, chairman of the board, said the discounts were costly and unauthorized by the board. He told The AP that the authority has missed out on $315,000 in the past seven years.