Trucking group rejects DOT’s justification of bridge toll gantry

By Tyson Fisher, staff writer

Shortly after Rhode Island announced its first two truck-only toll locations on Interstate 95 and released a “facts on tolling revenues” press release, the Rhode Island Trucking Association responded by refuting the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s claims.

In early May, RIDOT announced the first two of 14 tolling locations planned for the state, both near the Connecticut border on Interstate 95. A few weeks later, the DOT issued a fact sheet justifying a truck-only toll gantry at the Oxford Street Bridge in Providence.

According to the RIDOT press release, rehabilitation of the bridge is part of “asset management” or preventive maintenance to avoid costlier repairs in the future.

“The current superstructure condition of the Oxford Street Bridge is rated 5 by the FHWA as confirmed by bridge inspection reports,” RIDOT said. “A rating of 4 will put the bridge into the structurally deficient category, which means it is dangerous and much more expensive to repair.”

The Rhode Island Trucking Association responded by pointing out that Rhode Island has the greatest number of structurally deficient bridges in the country as a percentage and lacks the funds to fix those bridges. The association questioned the logic behind repairing a structurally sound bridge.

“Why is RIDOT rehabilitating a bridge that’s in good condition (72 percent sufficiency rating) with a superstructure rating of 5 when (Rhode Island) has so many structurally deficient bridges that it deems ‘dangerous,’” the trucking association said in a press release.

As for the claim that a reduced rating of 4 would make repair costs more expensive, the trucking group says that repair or replacement costs do not increase as a result of a rating slip.

Christopher Maxwell, president/CEO of the trucking association, told Land Line that the truck-only toll was sold to the public as a critical safety issue. However, RIDOT’s justification of the Oxford Street Bridge toll gantry suggests a different tone.

“We have gone from them crying fire in the theater to an asset management program,” Maxwell told Land Line. LL