East Bay representatives seek federal hearing on toll

Dionne Dubree and other protesters line up along the old Sakonnet River Bridge with "No Tolls" signs as politicians speak at the new bridge ribbon cutting last year. Dionne Dubree and other protesters line up along the old Sakonnet River Bridge with "No Tolls" signs as politicians speak at the new bridge ribbon cutting last year.
Dionne Dubree and other protesters line up along the old Sakonnet River Bridge with "No Tolls" signs as politicians speak at the new bridge ribbon cutting.

Dionne Dubree and other protesters line up along the old Sakonnet River Bridge with “No Tolls” signs as politicians speak at the new bridge ribbon cutting.

Four East Bay representatives are seeking federal hearings on state plans to institute tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) and Rep. Linda Finn (D-Dist. 72, Middletown, Portsmouth) sent a letter Wednesday to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that hearings be held by the Federal Highway Administration on the plan for tolls.

“Public hearings were previously conducted by [the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority] concerning the proposed tolls. However, it is our belief that the Federal Highway Administration should undertake its own hearings with citizens and business people from the area to learn firsthand the negative impacts and burdens tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge will present to these individuals,” the representatives wrote in their request.

“We understand that the hearings conducted by RIDOT and RITBA are a part of their application, but we firmly believe that separate hearings by the Federal highway Administration are necessary and appropriate,” the letter continued.

The RIDOT has applied to the Federal Highway Administration for permission to institute tolls of an unspecified rate on the bridge, which connects Tiverton and Portsmouth over the Sakonnet River.

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