Emergency halt to tolls denied; but hearing next week could change outcome

Sakonnet Bridge tolls
A new tolling gantry as seen from the Portsmouth side lastFriday morning.

A new tolling gantry as seen from the Portsmouth side lastFriday morning.

TIVERTON – PORTSMOUTH — A federal judge denied on Wednesday a request for a temporary restraining order brought to bring an immediate and temporary stop to work on the Sakonnet River Bridge tolling system, currently being installed by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

However, a hearing on a preliminary injunction to bring a more definite stop to the work is set in the same court before the same judge (Judge Ronald Lagueux) for next Wednesday, June 5 at 2 p.m.

The difference between the two successive Wednesday proceedings is that the first requested stoppage is considered to be more of an emergency request, to freeze an action in place , or to prevent it,  that might cause irreparable harm if allowed to continue, while the second could still stop the work but would follow a more considered briefing of the law by the parties to the litigation, and a review by the judge of the facts involved.

“I think it’s a very good thing that the judge scheduled a swift hearing for next week on the preliminary injunction,” said Tiverton Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz. Mr. Teitz’s law firm also represents the Town of Bristol.

Also held in abeyance, and not ruled upon, at yesterday’s conference before Judge Lagueux was a request by the Towns of Tiverton and Bristol to intervene in the lawsuit, originally filed by the Town of Portsmouth. It is  not certain when the intervention requests will be ruled upon.