2011-04-14 / News

Federal court rules that bridge tolls are constitutional

“We are very pleased with the favorable federal court decision affirming that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority has the right to set a discounted toll rate for Rhode Island residents,” said David Darlington, chairman of the RIBTA Board of Directors. “The resident discount was established to provide a measure of relief to the most frequent Newport Pell Bridge drivers, and we’re pleased that the issue has been settled for good.”

On March 27, 2009, a Connecticut resident filed a classaction lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island regarding the structure of toll rates. It had alleged that the discounted toll for Rhode Island residents was unconstitutional.

Last year, RITBA took steps to limit any potential liability in the Cohen v. RITBA case. While continuing to defend the underlying merits of its position, RITBA and the plaintiff agreed that neither party would appeal the decision of the court.

“It was very important for RITBA to protect itself and to mitigate any risk should the court have ruled against the RITBA,” Darlington said. “Based on the counsel of our legal advisors last year, we took the prudent step of agreeing to pay a portion of the costs of the suit so that we could avoid a protracted, highly expensive legal battle.”

He added, “For people who cross the Newport Pell Bridge frequently, this legal victory assures them that they will continue to receive the most favorable toll rates available.”

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