Bridge tolls should be shared by communities
It comes as no surprise that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says additional revenues are needed to maintain the Newport Pell Bridge and the Mt. Hope Bridge.
Currently, the maintenance of both bridges is funded by tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge. No tax monies are used to pay for upkeep on the bridges. The tolls on the Mt. Hope Bridge were eliminated in 1998 and now crossing that bridge is free to motorists.
Tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge were last increased in 2009 when the cash price went from $2 to $4 per axle. The EZ-Pass commuter rate remained the same at 83 cents.
RITBA says it now faces the choice of raising the tolls charged on the Newport Pell Bridge or reinstituting the tolls on the Mt. Hope Bridge.
The bridge authority plans to conduct public hearings on the tolls issue. It is sure to become a contentious topic in the next few months as the Bristol and Portsmouth communities fight to keep the Mt. Hope Bridge free from tolls. Meanwhile, Jamestown and Newport (and possibly North Kingstown) are sure to want to avoid further price increases on the Newport Pell Bridge tolls.
We believe that RITBA should re-toll the Mt. Hope Bridge so that those communities that rely upon that structure help to pay for its ongoing maintenance.
It is unfair to those of us who are frequent users of the Newport Pell Bridge to continue to pay for the upkeep of the Mt. Hope Bridge.
Bridge tolls are bound to garner the attention of the state legislature. Be sure to email your elected lawmakers:
• State Sen. Teresa Paiva Weed at sen-paivaweed@ riline.state.ri.us
• State Rep. Deb Ruggiero at rep-ruggiero@rilin. state.ri.us
What do you think? Should there be a toll on the Mt. Hope Bridge? Go to www.JamestownPress.com and register your vote in our unscientific, informal poll.
— Jeff McDonough