BRIDGES: R.I. Turnpike wants higher toll on bridge

State lawmakers, however, consider extending 10-cent charge

March 19, 2014

Not a dime more.

Residents and businesses on Aquidneck Island, R.I., protested a 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge, and were loud enough that the state legislature voted to eliminate it. However, when the Rhode Island Department of Transportation handed the bridge over to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, it came with the agreement that the toll would have to be much higher than the 10-cent charge so maintenance could be performed on four bridges: the Sakonnet, Pell, Mount Hope and the Jamestown Verrazano. Officials brought the toll back and marked it as a placeholder due to the risk of the federal government not allowing tolls on a new bridge if one was not set at the outset. The placeholder is set to expire on April 1 and will automatically revert to the Bridge and Turnpike Authority’s higher toll of 50 cents for EZ-Pass users and $3.75 for motorists who do not have the transponders.

Lawmakers are discussing their next move, which could involve extending the placeholder to July 1. In the meantime, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority wants to throw the Sakonnet River Bridge back on the lap of the Rhode Island DOT, claiming the 10-cent charge is not adequate to pay for bridge maintenance and negatively effects the authority’s credit rating.

“If July 1 becomes the new deadline as proposed, [the authority] must consider returning the Jamestown Verrazano and Sakonnet River bridges, and increase the toll on the Newport Pell Bridge,” said Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chairman David Darlington.

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