Bridge tax: Sweet deal for the DOT, bad deal for us

To the editor:

Step 1: The toll on the Newport/Pell Bridge started as a fee for the construction and maintenance of a bridge (much like the bridges over the Hudson River) that would never have been built without toll funding because of its size.  However, when the toll on the Mount Hope Bridge was dropped (dropped when it became public that the toll was a losing proposition that did not even cover the cost of toll collection), and Rhode Island failed to transfer the Mount Hope Bridge to the RI DOT for maintenance, the toll on the Newport/Pell Bridge became both a fee for the maintenance of that bridge and an unjustified tax to support the maintenance of the Mount Hope Bridge.

Step 2: Since the taking/theft of money from the Newport/Pell Bridge worked well to save the DOT maintenance costs of the Mount Hope Bridge, Step 2 of the unjustified toll tax is to toll the Sakonnet Bridge in order to obtain a planned $19 million per year to complete a $38 million per year plan for RI Bridge and Turnpike Authority (RIBTA) maintenance and improvement of the four Newport County Bridges (the Newport/Pell Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge, the Sakonnet Bridge, and the Jamestown Bridge).

This planned toll, according to DOT Director Lewis on December 3 and 4, 2012, would provide $2 million per year for Sakonnet Bridge maintenance (certainly not needed for the first several years for a maintenance-free bridge), and $17 million per year (90% of the Sakonnet toll) to be added to the maintenance fund of the other three bridges.

The proposed Sakonnet Bridge toll plan would then save the DOT $19 million per year in maintenance and improvement costs (possibly even more money per year, when the toll is increased after the first few years).  This $19 million per year saved by the DOT would then be available to be spent across the state for other DOT projects.

Step 3: If the proposed Sakonnet Bridge toll plan is successful, then step three could result in additional tolls across the state of Rhode Island, tolls that, like the proposed Sakonnet Bridge toll, could be 10 times greater than the actual maintenance costs of the bridge or road being tolled.

Question: Why would the governor and the DOT plan on instituting tolls that cost the travelers 10 times the maintenance cost of the bridge or road.

Answer: Possibly because they think that it is easier than establishing 10 times the number of tolls.

Possibly because they do not consider the injustice of their proposed actions. Possibly just because.

Roger A. Bennis



One Comment;

  1. Joyce said:

    Chafee has plans to fix all the roads and bridges in the State and he wants to do it on the backs of East Bay taxpayers, and in the meantime he wants to give his buddies who already make 6 figure salaries another 3% raise after giving them a raise back in January.

    And he wonders why his popularity numbers are so low. Don’t blame the media for your low ratings Governor, blame the angry taxpayers.

    Remember Mr. Chafee you got into office with 36% of the vote.