2013-04-11 / Editorial

Proposed bridge tolls seem fair to motorists

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority has finally released its proposed tolls for the Sakonnet River Bridge and they do not appear as onerous as opponents have predicted.

If readers will recall, last year the state General Assembly assigned the Sakonnet and Jamestown bridges to the care of RITBA, which was already charged with maintaining the Newport Pell and Mount Hope spans.

As the story on Page 1 of this newspaper details, Rhode Island residents could pay as little as 75 cents per crossing – with the charges limited to one round trip per day. That is less expensive than the 83 cents currently paid by the E-ZPass holders who cross the Newport Pell Bridge.

Funds raised from the Pell Bridge tolls and the proposed tolls on the Sakonnet bridge would be used to pay for the maintenance of all four bridges which are major routes of access that tie together communities around the bay. The proposed Sakonnet bridge tolls would not delay traffic as those crossing the bridge could drive through with E-ZPass transponders.

Maintaining these bridges is expensive due to the corrosive salt water and salt air. RITBA has demonstrated its ability to keep the Pell and Mount Hope bridges in good repair and we believe the organization would continue its performance with the addition of the two new bridges.

Of course, this all hinges upon what may transpire this year at the General Assembly. There are a number of bills proposed that could change how RITBA is funded. But as we have previously stated, allowing RITBA to continue as intended and toll the Sakonnet Bridge makes the most sense. Those who use the bridges should pay for the maintenance through user fees. It’s really quite simple.

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