The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced today that the federal government agrees with Rhode Island’s program to implement bridge tolls on large commercial vehicles or “tractor trailers” at 13 locations across the state.
“For too long, our state kicked the can down the road on infrastructure, allowing our roads and bridges to crumble and fall into total disrepair. With RhodeWorks, leaders came together to put an end to the politics of procrastination and take action to keep people safe,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “With the partnership and approval of the federal government, we are going to keep moving forward as quickly as we can to deliver the infrastructure Rhode Islanders deserve.
Bridges being tolled include those both on Interstate highways and state roads.
“The inadequacy of infrastructure funding is a problem that has plagued Rhode Island for decades,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. “I am delighted that the federal government has agreed to partner with us and participate in this program to help fund the reconstruction of our crumbling bridges.”
Members of the trucking community reacted to the news with some ambivalence, with RI Trucking Association president Chris Maxwell telling WPRO’s Matt Allen that this wasn’t news to them, but that state leaders have “targeted the wrong industry.” Gaspee Business Network member Mike Collins went a step further, saying that truckers might go as far as to refuse to deliver goods to Rhode Island.
“In the end, we control your supply chain, and you don’t screw with your supply chain,” Collins told Allen.
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The controversial tolling was authorized by the General Assembly by the passage of the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction and Maintenance Fund Act, better known as RhodeWorks, which was signed into law on February 11, 2016. Through RhodeWorks, RIDOT is authorized to toll large commercial trucks in order to fund, in part, the replacement or reconstruction of the bridges throughout the state.
According to the DOT press release, RhodeWorks assesses tolls on tractor trailers to account for the “disproportionately large amount of damage they cause relative to cars and other trucks”. RIDOT cites a GAO report to Congress indicated that “one fully loaded tractor trailer can do the equivalent damage of 9,600 cars.”
An additional memorandum of understanding for the Providence Viaduct will be executed once the existing environmental mitigation requirements for the project are satisfied. Those requirements were agreed upon as part of the original construction of the viaduct project.
With the federal government’s OK, RIDOT will now proceed to solicit proposals from firms to design, build, operate and maintain the tolling system.
RIDOT expects to issue a request for proposals by late November. Firms from around the world have expressed interest in submitting proposals. RIDOT’s 10-year plan anticipates revenues from truck tolls beginning in 2018.
According to FHWA statistics, Rhode Island has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridge deck area of any other state in the nation. The truck tolls at these 13 locations will be used to reconstruct or replace 34 bridges throughout the state, including Interstate bridges. The toll revenues will be used to help pay a portion of the replacement or reconstruction costs for the bridges being tolled. The 34 Project Bridges are included in 13 tolling locations as cited in the MOUs. The bridges are:
|1. Wood River Valley in Hopkinton/Richmond
|18. U.S. 6 North in Johnston
|2. Tefft Hill Trail Northbound in Exeter
|19. U.S. 6 South in Johnston
|3. Tefft Hill Trail Southbound in Exeter
|20. Greenville Avenue Northbound in Johnston
|4. Baker Pines in Richmond
|21. Greenville Avenue Southbound in Johnston
|5. Toll Gate Road in Warwick
|22. Hartford Pike Northbound in Johnston
|6. Centerville Road in Warwick
|23. Hartford Pike Southbound in Johnston
|7. Oxford Street in Providence
|24. Scott Road Northbound in Cumberland
|8. East Street Northbound in Pawtucket
|25. Scott Road Southbound in Cumberland
|9. East Street Southbound in Pawtucket
|26. Leigh Road Northbound in Cumberland
|10. Roosevelt Avenue Northbound in Pawtucket
|27. Leigh Road Southbound in Cumberland
|11. Roosevelt Avenue Southbound in Pawtucket
28. Washington Bridge North in Providence/East Providence
|12. Aqueduct Northbound in Cranston
|29. Washington Bridge South in Providence/East Providence
|13. Aqueduct Southbound in Cranston
|30. Louisquisset Pike in Lincoln
|14. Plainfield Pike Northbound in Cranston
|31. Farnum Pike Northbound in North Smithfield
|15. Plainfield Pike Southbound in Cranston
|32. Farnum Pike Southbound in North Smithfield
|16. I-295 N Bridge over ramp in Johnston
|33. Woonasquatucket River in Providence
|17. I-295 S Bridge over ramp in Johnston
|34. Huntington Avenue Viaduct in Providence