Rhode Island governor signs truck-only toll bill

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 2/12/2016

A controversial proposal to fund road and bridge repairs in Rhode Island by levying tolls exclusively on commercial vehicles is now state law after receiving Gov. Gina Raimondo’s signature on night of Feb. 11.

The plan calls for the state to raise and spend more than $500 million over five years from truck-only tolls and borrowing to repair the Ocean State’s worst-in-the-nation bridges.

Both the OOIDA and the Rhode Island State Trucking Association have condemned the proposal since it was first broached by the governor’s office last summer, and there are reports of potential lawsuits over the tolls.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston called the legislation “outrageous.”

“It certainly discriminates against trucks,” Johnston said. “Cars are using the same highways and they’re not going to have to pay the fee, at least as it stands now.”

As far as issuing a legal challenge, Johnston said the Association would be exploring those possibilities.

First announced last May as a means of shoring up the Ocean State’s crumbling bridges, Raimondo’s toll proposal came under fire immediately from trucking groups. The plan was revised by reducing the cap on the toll to cross the state from $30 to $20, and cutting in half the total bonding to be raised by borrowing. The law calls for 14 gantries, primarily on bridges along Interstate 95, with an additional four gantries on state and U.S. highways.

A survey last month of more than 370 OOIDA members in Rhode Island and other northeastern states showed that 75 percent of truckers said they would avoid Rhode Island if the state adopted truck-only tolls.

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