To the editor:
Many editorials and letters have been written complimenting those who fought long and hard to win the battle over the Sakonnet Bridge tolls. Many people deserve credit and thanks for efforts to defeat the toll that could have been a financial disaster (the tolls could have collected less than the state’s loss due to lost taxes), and an economic disaster for the entire East Bay area and the entire state.
However (not to demean the efforts of those who fought for the victory of justice over greed), the many editorials and letters have failed to give proper credit to several of the most important facts that contributed to the victory.
Yes, the victory was due to the great efforts of many East Bay legislators, politicians, taxpayers, toll payers, and citizens; but credit must also be given to several of the critically important facts:
• #1 is the fact that the toll was intended not to support the maintenance of the new maintenance-free bridge that will need very little or no “bridge maintenance” for the next ten years or more. The toll was intended to support the maintenance of the Jamestown Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge, and to partially support the maintenance of the Newport Pell Bridge.
• #2 is the fact that the toll was an unjust burden because of both the amount proposed, (comparable to the Newport Pell Bridge toll, a bridge that was built as a toll bridge to replace the ferry), and because it would have been the only comparable bridge in the state that would have been tolled.
• #3 is the fact that if the Sakonnet Bridge toll had succeeded, it would have set a precedent for other unjust tolls on other bridges and roads throughout the state. This was most likely the reason for the support of many of the non-East Bay legislators across the state.
• #4 is the fact that the road and bridge financing that the East Bay legislators set up stopped the theft of toll funding from travelers over the Newport Pell Bridge in order to finance the maintenance of the Mount Hope Bridge, and it provided proper funding from travelers who use the roads and bridges to fund the maintenance of all the state’s roads and bridges.
Rather than praising Rhode Island legislators, a few people have criticized the plan and indicated support for the unjust toll that would have amounted to legalized theft from a few for the benefit of the many others in the state who could have benefited. Such support can only be considered as resulting from ignorance and/or greed, such as the ignorance and/or greed that devised the toll plan in the first place. It is truly unfortunate.
Roger A. Bennis