Blue bridge lights no cure for Sakonnet toll mess

Blue bridge lights no cure for Sakonnet toll mess


To the editor:

The “option” for the center lights on the Sakonnet Bridge cost $647,000. I’d rather have no toll.

Glad to read they are being replaced, at no cost, under warranty. Did anyone request the dark blue color? They would look better as plain LED white.

Now we need to ask Director Lewis — Will this make the bridge substantially complete?

A representative from RIDOT indicated the disputes with Cardi Corporation are just under $70 million. You read that right, just under $70 ,illion in disputes. The bridge cost $163.7 million.

Director Lewis admitted that it was not substantially complete, when asked by Rep. Edwards, due to the disputes.

The RIDOT person talked about the Sakonnet Bridge very casually when he volunteered the dispute amount. He indicated that RIDOT hired  “not so” qualified inspectors who signed off on the work completed  by Cardi Corporation.

Then the work/disputes became apparent, and  RIDOT demanded  that  Cardi Corporation resolve the disputed work. Cardi Corporation showed RIDOT the signed inspection reports by the not-so-qualified RIDOT inspectors.

When will it be resolved?

Director Lewis emailed all 113 members of our General Assembly on June 26, 2013. Here are a few paragraphs (the entire email can be found on

Dear House Members,
Since last year, we have been working to implement the law (directed in the 2012 budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor) that includes tolling the Sakonnet as a means of ensuring our
four-bridge system can be adequately maintained long term.  The amendment that the floor is currently contemplating to defer tolls until April 2014 does not serve the immediate need of establishing a dedicated funding mechanism for maintenance of these structures. Rather, it would lead to the following results:
• Due to current federal law, deferral of tolls until April 2014 may preclude Rhode Island’s ability to ever use tolling of the Sakonnet Bridge as a funding option for maintaining this critical state asset.
• RITBA has suffered a loss of $4 million due to its deferral of a planned toll increase in February 2012.  An additional $4 million of revenue will be lost if no toll increase on Pell is allowed prior to April 2014.  In addition, RITBA will have to pay $3.5 million in expenses for installing the toll structure.  These expenses would have been offset through the collection of toll violations. Combined, this will result in an additional $11.5 million budget deficit for RITBA.
• RITBA’s Board will likely vote to transfer the Sakonnet and Jamestown Bridges back to DOT; RITBA is prohibited from taking the structures without a dedicated funding source.

• RITBA will likely vote to increase tolls to $5 cash and $1 for locals on Newport and will likely be in default of its current bonds – if they do not have the ability to set toll rate on Newport. The Authority will also likely be forced to consider reintroducing tolls on
the Mt. Hope Bridge.  And there will no longer be the following discounts on the Newport Bridge given the flat-rate structure:
Michael P. Lewis, Director
Our governor, legislators RIDOT and the FHWA were complicit in sticking this toll down our throats. Itis an illegal toll, and sooner or later Senior US District Judge Lagueux will need to hold a hearing.

What other county in Rhode Island has two tolls? They all have bridges, and more than 600 statewide are deficient.

And they think the new blue lights will make this better?

April 1 is 49 days away — will it be substantially complete?

John Vitkevich



  1. You forgot to mention the brand new building that was built at the foot of the Pell/Newport Bridge. How much did this cost? Was it really that essential?