To the editor:
An open letter to Governor Chaffee …
Dear Gov. Chafee:
Rather than adding new bridge tolls in Rhode Island, why have any tolls at all?
If we are truly interested in creating a sustainable, healthy economy and environment in Rhode Island, let’s eliminate all bridge tolls and simply increase the gasoline/diesel tax (an efficient user based revenue system that is already in place) to pay for the maintenance of all state bridges, roads, and transportation infrastructure. The reasons are palpable:
1.Tolls booths cause congestion and pollution. While EZ Pass has helped to relieve some of these problems, many drivers (and especially tourists) pay with cash. Of course, proper accounting for cash collections creates additional challenges and expense.
2. Accidents increase at tolls booths. Eliminating them altogether would improve safety while reducing unhealthy greenhouse gas emissions for drivers, neighbors, and workers.
3. There would be less time wasted by drivers (and passengers) and they would enjoy better mileage as “stop and start” driving is fuel intensive.
4. The high costs of installing, operating and maintaining toll booths would be eliminated, big $ that could be recycled into transportation maintenance and capital improvement programs creating new jobs on projects that would generate a long lasting Return on Investment. Importantly, improving the RI transportation infrastructure would make the state more attractive for business, commerce, and residents.
5. Aquidneck Island would not be the only beneficiary of a no-toll state. An efficient and safe transportation infrastructure system statewide would inure to the benefit of one and all.
I recall when the then-Gov. of Connecticut eliminated all the tolls in the state. In retrospect it was a big sustainability step for the state although I think he may have done it just to be re-elected which he was by a big margin.