2011-10-13 / Editorial

Bridge tolls topic of public hearing Monday

Islanders should be aware that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, in the Jamestown library on tolls for the Mount Hope Bridge and the Newport Pell Bridge.

This is an important meeting – one that may impact how much you have to pay to cross the Newport Bridge in the future.

Specifically, RITBA is considering reinstituting the tolls on the Mount Hope Bridge to help fund maintenance costs for that structure. If tolls are not placed on the Mount Hope Bridge, RITBA officials say a toll price increase will be necessary on the Newport Bridge.

Last week RITBA held public hearings on the matter in Bristol and Portsmouth. Residents there strongly opposed returning the tolls to the Mount Hope Bridge.

Tolls on the Mount Hope Bridge were eliminated in 1998. Crossing that bridge is now free and its upkeep is funded from tolls on the Newport Bridge.

Jamestowners might want to mention that it would be unfair to continue to make those people who primarily use the Newport Bridge to pay for the upkeep of the Mount Hope Bridge. One could also argue that toll price hikes on the Newport Bridge could have an detrimental economic impact on the business communities in Jamestown and Newport.

All communities should share in the cost of bridge maintenance through tolls.

— Jeff McDonough

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