Local lawmakers named to panel seeking bridge toll alternatives

Local lawmakers named to panel seeking bridge toll alternatives

The as-yet unused Sakonnet Bridge toll gantry.

STATE HOUSE – Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox and President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed have announced their appointments to the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for Bridge. The panel is charged with studying funding options for bridge maintenance that might eradicate the need for a Sakonnet River Bridge toll.

Senate members of the commission will be Senate Finance Chairman Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) and Senators Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Christopher S. Ottiano (R-Dist.11, Portsmouth, Bristol).

House members will include House Finance Chairman Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence), and 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 will be 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.

The special legislative panel will not only study ways to fund East Bay bridges, but also seek a funding mechanism for all state bridges. The commission is required to report its findings to the General Assembly on or before Jan. 15, 2014.