2012-02-16 / Editorial

Expand RITBA duties and keep the tolls affordable

The tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge will increase this summer unless the General Assembly acts to expand the scope of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

RITBA voted last week to raise the tolls on the Pell Bridge. That toll hike would not take effect, however, if state legislators approve the governor’s proposal to turn over the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge and the new Sakonnet River Bridge.

Plans then call for tolls to be placed on the Sakonnet Bridge and keep the Pell Bridge tolls at the current level. The Mount Hope Bridge would not be tolled under the new scenario.

RITBA would be responsible for maintaining four bridges with the revenue generated from the Pell and Sakonnet bridges.

In the past we have argued that it only makes sense that RITBA’s maintenance of the bridges become a shared burden. All drivers should pay their fair share. Tolling the Sakonnet River Bridge would help alleviate the pressure of the Pell Bridge having to pick up the tab.

It will also become necessary for the state to place tolls on Interstate 95. Federal revenue sharing is expected to further decline in the coming years making road maintenance in Rhode Island more difficult. Tolls are essentially a user tax. We pay that tax when driving on I-95 in other states. It’s time to toll the interstate here.

— Jeff McDonough

Return to top