• EDITORIAL •
There has been much confusion and misinformation about the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority's proposal to convert the Pell Bridge toll system to E-Z Pass.
RITBA will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Goat Island Hyatt Regency in Newport.
RITBA Chairman David Darlington this week said the E-Z Pass plan must be approved by the board of the directors who will meet on Sept. 24.
Here's the proposal as I understand it, as outlined for me this week by Darlington:
• There is no rate increase for local users. The E-Z Pass rate will be based on the current local bulk token rate achieved when you purchase 60 tokens for $50 (about 83 cents per token).
• Local users will need to purchase E-Z Pass transponders. The transponders will cost RITBA $20.93 each. RITBA will add $5 for handling, so the consumer cost will be $26.93 each. You will need one per vehicle.
• Cash customers will still pay the same rate of $2 per axle.
• Future bridge maintenance expenses will be addressed at a later date. Any proposed rate increase on the Pell Bridge toll, or putting a toll on the Mt. Hope Bridge, will be taken up by the RITBA board this fall.
If you've got questions, go to the public hearing. I believe the E-Z Pass proposal makes sense. The E-Z Pass system is used throughout New England on toll roads and bridges. It's time we put the system to work here on the Pell Bridge.
— Jeff McDonough