To the editor:
Correct, the anti-toll groups do not speak for all of Newport County. Senate President Paiva-Weed’s and Rep. Martin’s positions are well known and understood. We respect them for doing the right thing for their constituents. It is no secret that the further south you go on Aquidneck Island, the opinions change.
Folks in Bristol, Warren, Fall River and the 195 corridor have deep concerns and they were taken into consideration by all involved. In fact, many of the anti-toll advocates have looked at the problem from a state and regional point of view, not just Newport County.
In her office in February 2013, Sen. Paiva-Weed communicated strongly and directly to anti-toll leaders her concern for the toll rates on the Pell. We took her guidance seriously and developed strategies, not only to find funding in place of the Sakonnet toll, but a few ideas on how to eliminate the toll from the Pell altogether. It is within the realm of possibility to fund an infrastructure plan that would result in removing the toll from the Pell. We will leave it up to the folks in Newport if they want that option.
It is not hysteria. There has been massive amounts of research and analysis done with respect to the whole process. We urge you to reach out to any of the other East Bay senators and representatives and they can certainly tell you how much thought, time and effort have gone into this issue.
One of the most important points from the research was that the state stands to lose as much tax revenue from lost business and tourism as the tolls would have brought in.
Also, part of the massive analysis has been to look closely at R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority borrowing and spending. Out of decorum, we choose not to make this a public issue at this time.
All elements of those bills are negotiable. Those negotiations are going on as we speak. The anti-toll leaders do not have those details.
If tolls were good for business, good for the economy and put money into peoples pockets, then we would be begging for them.
Mr. Berberick is chairman of the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee and a member of the Portsmouth Business Association and STOP (Sakonnet Tolls Opposition Platform).