Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) is urging residents of his district to testify before the House Committee on Finance later this month on legislation that would derail plans to institute tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.
Two bills dealing with bridge tolls are scheduled for a hearing — 2013-H 5137, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Canario, and 2013-H 5644. Both would repeal the transfer of authority for the Sakonnet River Bridge and the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge from the Department of Transportation to the RI Bridge and Turnpike Authority.
The House bills were introduced by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) and Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence). They are scheduled for a Finance Committee hearing at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, in Room 35 of the State House.
He also urged residents to join him and fellow lawmakers at a noon rally at the State House before the hearing.
An identical Senate bill, 2013-S 0020, was introduced in that chamber by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton).
“There are people in my district who are throwing up their hands, shrugging their shoulders and saying that instituting tolls on the bridge is a done deal,” said Rep. Canario. “I want them to know that it is absolutely not a done deal and that passage of this legislation will ensure that. It is important that the people who oppose the tolls turn out for this hearing and let their voices be heard.
Rep. Canario called the imposition of tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge “absolutely devastating.” He said that placing a toll on the bridge would be harmful to the small businesses on Aquidneck Island that rely on customers from the other side of the bridge, as well as for those elderly patients who receive medical care in Fall River.