Rhode Island has a major problem. Their bridges and roads are amongst the most in need of maintenance and repair in the entire nation. To try and fix this issue however, they may end up with an even bigger problem. Rhode Island has announced a new Truck Only toll for almost two dozen of its busiest bridges that will cost commercial drivers around $100 million a year.
Governor Gina Raimondo announced the truck only toll as part of the state’s RhodeWorks plan. RhodeWorks is a ten-year plan that hopes to fund the repair of the state’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. In addition to improvements and maintenance to roads and bridges however, the RhodeWorks plan will also set aside money for “providing increased bus and rail service as well as funding for bike lanes and accessible sidewalks.”
Backlash against the plan was swift and fierce from both local and national trucking groups and the state has had to backpedal to try to keep the plan moving forward. Instead of placing a toll on all commercial trucks, it now plans to remove the toll from class 6 and 7 trucks and only toll class 8-13. Unfortunately, this means that big rig drivers will still be subject to the tolls. The RIDOT has further amended the rule to make it so that vehicles can only be tolled once per day, per bridge, per direction. That’s good for drivers who go back and forth over the same bridge multiple times a day, but not at all helpful for anyone else.
While there has been no official final cost published for each toll, it is estimated that trucks would have to pay around $6 per toll in order for the plan to generate $100 million for the state every year.
“This plan to toll only trucks is quite literally highway robbery – stealing from our industry to paper over Rhode Island’s budget issues,” Said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
According to Governor Raimondo however, there’s a good reason trucks – and large trucks especially – are being soloed out for new tolls.
“The fact of the matter is, those are the trucks that cause 90 plus percent of the damage to our highways and bridges,” Raimondo said according to The Day. “They also benefit the most from well-maintained bridges and roads.”