Bridge funding/tolls study panel begins work

The Sakonnet River Bridge toll gantry.

The Sakonnet River Bridge toll gantry.

The Sakonnet River Bridge toll gantry.

The group charged with finding ways to pay for maintenance of East Bay bridges holds its first meeting at 4 p.m. this Thursday, Sept. 26, in Room 35 of the State House.

The Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for East Bay Bridges was created last year by the General Assembly and enables lawmakers and state officials to meet for six months to map out bridge maintenance plans, potentially eradicating the need for a bridge toll.

The first meeting’s agenda includes a review of commission legislation and a presentation by the House and Senate fiscal staffs.

The commission will not take testimony at this meeting. Capitol TV will broadcast the meeting live on Channel 15 for Cox Communications and Full Channel, as well as Channel 34 for Verizon.

Rep. Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), who also serve as the chairmen of the House and Senate finance committees, co-chair the commission. Senate members of the commission also include Senators Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Christopher S. Ottiano (R-Dist.11, Portsmouth, Bristol). House members include Representatives John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Antonio Giarrusso (R-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).

The three remaining members of the special legislative commission are Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, or a designee; Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) Executive Director Buddy Croft, or a designee; and Department of Administration Director Richard Licht, or a designee.



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