Letter: Toll for local drivers should be a nickel

Letter: Toll for local drivers should be a nickel


To the editor:

Last week, unbeknownst to just about all Rhode Islanders, three well-known celebrities passed through Rhode Island.

The governor and his honchos caught wind of this and thought this would make for a great photo op. With cameras clicking, video rolling, and microphones in place, everything was going according to plan. That is, until someone from the press yelled out, “What do you think of the tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge?”

The lady celeb didn’t take but a second to respond, “I think they should be five cents!”

The cameras then zoomed in on the governor, who had just brought his right palm up to his forehead. Soon after the lady spoke, her gentlemen friend chirped in, “Yeah! They should be FIVE cents!” All this while their four-legged friend wagged his tail and nodded in agreement. The cameras again focused on the governor, who looked quite flustered as he stammered for a response. The best he could come up with before storming out of the room was, “Everything can’t be five cents!”

Though we can get a little chuckle from the above, this is no laughing matter to us in this part of Rhode Island (I’ll get to the five cents latter). How do we find ourselves in such a predicament in the first place? Maybe it’s our own fault in how we elect people in government.

We elect people who will look out for our best interests. If they don’t, we won’t vote them in next time. How much are we concerned that they also have the integrity to do what’s best for and fair to everybody in the state? So, we would expect all of our local reps to vote against the tolls. Voting for the tolls doesn’t have an adverse effect on their constituents in other parts of the state, so reps there voted for them.

The people and reps in those areas even get the added bonus of money to use for their purposes from tolls we pay to use the bridge. Instead of doing what was morally right and fair to all concerned, upstate representatives failed to stop this plan of our money-hungry governor and his band of fiscally irresponsible people. I challenge all of you reps to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Did I have the integrity to do what was not only best, but also fair to all Rhode Island?”

Is this a Rhode Island bridge or does it belong to Newport County? Is that why we should pay for the brunt of it? Well governor, I guess because my children no longer attend the Portsmouth public schools, I and many others can drastically reduce what we pay in property taxes to Portsmouth (mostly funds public education). Let the people who use the schools pay for them!

Back to the five cents. I think tolls for residents of Aquidneck Island, Tiverton and Little Compton, who are using the bridge to commute between adjoining cities of Rhode Island, should pay five cents (with E-ZPass). Residents of the remaining parts of Rhode Island should pay $1 (with E-ZPass). Residents from other states should pay $4 (with E-ZPass). Discounts should be given to in (five centers) and out of state ($1) daily commuters with E-ZPass. A higher fee should be charged to account for extra costs associated with billings without E-ZPass.

Joseph J. Barek, Jr.