To the editor:
Dear Rhode Island state senators and representatives,
As long time residents of Portsmouth and Aquidneck Island, we adamantly oppose the tolls that are planned for the Sakonnet River Bridge. As argued in detail by many businesses and organizations from Aquidneck Island and Tiverton, we strongly believe the tolls will have a devastating affect on local businesses, residents and workers. Some of these affects will be:
• Loss of revenue to businesses in Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport and Tiverton
• An unfair increase in transportation costs for RI workers who travel to Aquidneck Island
• An unfair increase in transportation costs for Rhode Island workers who travel from Aquidneck Island
• An unreasonable increase in transportation cost for Massachusetts workers who travel to Aquidneck Island
• n overwhelming increase in traffic on Routes 114 and 138 through Swansea, Warren and Bristol to access the free Mount Hope Bridge.
We have read the study done that analyzes the cost of bridge maintenance and options for funding the maintenance. We understand that the three bridges that service Aquidneck Island are costly to maintain. The other bridges in Rhode Island are also costly to maintain but there are no plans to apply tolls to them.
We believe that Governor Chafee is using the proposed Sakonnet River Bridge toll revenue to maintain all bridges in Rhode Island as well as cover shortfalls in other state run programs. Taxing the users of the Sakonnet River Bridge is not the way to do this. A cost saving suggestion is to avoid putting budget draining bills up for taxpayer vote during the next several elections. Most Rhode Islanders don’t seem to know how to say no.
We also find it extremely insulting that the toll equipment has been quickly and efficiently installed and ready for use. It has taken years to finish the bridge and it is still not fully functional. It is amazing that time and funds can be put into erecting tolls and not finishing the bridge.
We hope that this message does not fall on deaf ears and you take our plea seriously.
Donna and Christopher Matthews