Senate panel considers bridge funding bill Tuesday

toll gantry2

Legislation is being considered to find an alternative method, other than tolls, of funding the maintenance of Rhode Island bridges.

Legislation is being considered to find an alternative method, other than tolls, of funding the maintenance of Rhode Island bridges (such as the Sakonnet River Bridge, pictured).

PROVIDENCE — The Senate Finance Committee will meet Tuesday, May 6, to consider a bill that would provide a new method to fund transportation and bridge costs in Rhode Island.

The hearing begins at 3 p.m. in Room 211 of the State House.

The act (2014-S 2335) would establish the Rhode Island Transportation Infrastructure Fund as a restricted receipt account within the Rhode Island Intermodal Surface Transportation Fund. Additionally, ownership of the Sakonnet River and Mt. Hope bridges would be transferred to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) and the ability to toll those bridges would be revoked.

“We listened carefully to the Aquidneck Island residents and business owners who have exercised their democratic rights in speaking up for what is fair regarding bridge tolls in the East Bay, and now we’ve acted,” said Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), primary sponsor of the bill. “I think this demonstrates the strong commitment of the General Assembly to the people it represents. The legislation provides a solid plan moving forward, and I hope my colleagues on the Finance Committee will support it.”

Noted Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton), sponsor of the House companion bill, “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House to finalize a long-term, statewide plan for the maintenance of our state’s bridges and roads. We share the same common goal: to ensure a fair system that will protect the integrity of our local economy while improving Rhode Island’s infrastructure.”

The bill further requires all funds and revenue generated by the establishment of the uninsured motorist identification database be deposited into the Transportation Infrastructure Fund.

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