To the editor:
Now that the new Sakonnet River Bridge is officially open, two questions remain.
One is, how should its construction and maintenance be paid for? The state seems determined to impose tolls, mainly falling on nearby residents and businesses who have to use it the most. No user would object, if their toll money went toward covering the building and upkeep of this bridge, and if there were comparable tolls elsewhere.
However, the Department of Transportation has said that the tolls on this short bridge should not only equal those on the much longer Pell Bridge but also go to the maintenance of all the other roads and bridges in Rhode Island. This brings up the second question: Where is the fairness?
Last July, Michael P. Wilson, head of the DOT, interviewed in this paper, said, “Believe me, we get the fairness issue.” But it is painfully clear from all the protests, declarations from local representatives, businesses, and letter-writers, that the DOT doesn’t “get” it at all. We locals, on Aquidneck Island, in Tiverton, Little Compton, and nearby Massachusetts, are obviously being soaked. Instead of finding ways to fund what will benefit the whole state, our state’s leaders see the Sakonnet River bridge as a convenient cash cow.