Tolls needed on both bay bridges
Soon motorists will pay more to cross the Newport Bridge. That's because an additional $223 million will be needed over the next 20 years for maintenance of the Newport and Mt. Hope Bridges, both operated by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.
Tolls on the Newport Bridge have cost $1 an axle for cars since the bridge opened in 1969. Discounts could be obtained by purchasing the bridge tokens in bulk. Even though other expenses have increased over the years, there has never been a toll increase.
The tolls on the Mt. Hope Bridge were eliminated several years ago.
Now RITBA officials are holding a series of public hearings to gather input on how the $223 million maintenance cost deficit should be met. The first hearing was held in Jamestown this week.
It's clear that islanders would like our neighbors to the north to help pay the costs of maintenance on the two bridges, especially when one considers that recently $30 million has been spent on the update of the Mt. Hope Bridge.
A toll increase is painful but necessary. The increase will be hardest on those work commuters who must cross the Newport Bridge twice a day. Placing a toll on the Mt. Hope Bridge will reduce the size of the toll increase on the Newport Bridge.
Let's keep the tolls fair for everyone who crosses the two bridges. The free ride up north has got to end.
- Jeff McDonough