Rhode Island’s Independence Day Sakonnet River Bridge toll gift to its East Bay and Southeastern Massachusetts friends — by the numbers:
• Massachusetts residents earning minimum wage ($7.75 per hour) in Rhode Island will spend nearly an entire hour of their working day paying the round trip bridge toll of $7.50 (Rhode Island E-ZPass rate). If those workers don’t have an E-ZPass transponder, the $10.50 round trip toll will require almost an hour and a half of work every day.
• Those same people who choose to buy a $20.95 Rhode Island E-ZPass transponder, plus required $25 toll deposit, will work nearly six hours to pay that bill.
• Annual commuting costs for Massachusetts people with E-ZPass taking the bridge to work in Rhode Island will be about $1,875.
• People living in Tiverton or Little Compton who commute to work on Aquidneck Island will have to add another $375 a year to their commute costs. Same for those commuting from Aquidneck Island or Bristol to points east.
• Visitors without transponders will be hit for $10.50 round trip (a one-time expense since they probably won’t be back).
• $2,200 per year: Island Garden Shop owner Martin Van Hof’s estimate on personal toll impact (he lives in Tiverton, his shop is in Portsmouth and he drive an oversize pickup). That figure does not include business losses — customers unwilling to pay $10.50 round trip to buy plants, supplier cost hikes …
• Many drivers, of course, won’t pay — they’ll take the free route through Warren and Bristol across the Mount Hope Bridge. State estimates are that from 8,770 to 10,188 drivers will make that shift. Many of those trips will be at rush hour and many of those vehicles will be trucks, for which tolls are higher. But good news — the state’s consultant predicts no traffic impact.
• Zero — the cost to drive any Rhode Island bridge or highway outside of Newport County; also the cost of entry to Cape Cod.
Thanks, Governor Chafee.
And happy Fourth of July.