Rhode Island is moving forward with its plan to set up truck-only tolls and the trucking industry is looking for any way to stop it – no matter how unlikely the method. This time, the American Trucking Association is using what it claims are flawed environmental reports to fight back.
In the past, the ATA has argued that the tolls would violate constitutional laws, create unsafe traffic diversions to smaller roads, negatively impact Rhode Island businesses, drive up prices for consumers, and all while raising far less money for the state than they’re supposed to. Those challenges have gone unheeded by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo who is barreling forward with the truck tolls – a major source of revenue for her RhodeWorks infrastructure plan.
On November 1st, RIDOT published a report on the environmental impact that the new tolls would have in order to be able to start tolling. The ATA is claiming that “the [Environment Assessment’s] faulty analysis” should prohibit the tolls from getting the go-ahead. They’re asking the Federal Highway Administration to reject the Environmental Assessment and “order further study through an Environmental Impact Statement.”
This tactic is not unlike the one employed by the FBI to take down notorious mob boss Al Capone. Federal Agents were having trouble proving he was a mobster – so instead they proved that he wasn’t paying his taxes. ATA is having trouble proving any of their more severe claims about the truck-only tolls, so now it seems like they’re trying to see if they can find a different way to keep the tolls from becoming a reality.
It’s not just Rhode Island truck-only tolls that the ATA is concerned about. If they succeed there, they could spread to other states. And even if they are eventually implemented, if the ATA can make Rhode Island fight for every step along the way, other states may decide that it’s simply not worth the hassle.
“Given the national precedent that this initiative would establish, ATA will exhaust every legislative, regulatory and legal avenue to defeat the implementation of the tolling portion of RhodeWorks and prevent this cancerous proposal from spreading around the country,” promised ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This effort is still in the early stages and we intend to fight this battle for as long as it takes.”