Tolls can still be stopped if we act now

Tolls can still be stopped if we act now


To the editor:

The long fight to remove the tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge is starting to go our way — this despite the installation of the toll gantry on the bridge and all the negative stories in the press.

We now are at the critical point in the Assembly.  New legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House this week to unify the State’s bridge systems into a program that provides funding for maintenance and removes the tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge.  It prohibits tolls on all bridges in the state that are over 700 foot in length, except the Newport Bridge. The toll on that bridge would be frozen at the current rate. The bills propose funding maintenance for those bridges through an increase in the semi-annual emission inspection fee.

The Senate bill appears to have the support of the Senate Leadership, which is a very critical event.  Both bills have been scheduled for a hearing before their respective Finance Committees.  Representative Jay Edward’s House bill (H6120) will be heard on Tuesday, June 11. We do not yet have a hearing date for Senator DiPalma’s bill (S989).

I am asking you to send e-mail messages to House Speaker Gordon Fox and House Finance Committee Chair Helio Mello, supporting Rep. Edwards bill.  I have inserted a number of points below for use in your e-mails, should you wish to use them.

Their address are:

Speaker Gordon Fox – [email protected] ; office phone: (401) 222-2447

House Finance Committee Chair Helio Melo – [email protected]

• The State desperately needs a unified Transportation approach.  H6120 provides for the unification of the maintenance effort of all of the large bridges in the State and begins a more rational and measured approach to maintaining our declining transportation infrastructure.

• The State’s Transportation network is in disrepair largely because of the overuse of debt in the Department of Transportation and State mismanagement.  The tolls are the State government’s way of shifting the costs of mismanagement to the people of East Bay.  H6120 is an equitable alternative to this unacceptable toll.

• The tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge run counter to recent efforts by the House leadership to address Rhode Island’s economic problems.  The economy of the East Bay is one of the relative bright spots in the State’s economy.  The tolls will reduce business activity in East Bay at just the point where government is trying to improve the business climate in our State.

• The Sakonnet toll was established to provide revenue to conduct repairs on the Newport Bridge.  The toll has very little to do with maintaining the new Sakonnet Bridge.

• Over 31,000 people signed the petition opposing the Sakonnet Bridge tolls.  We are absolutely united against this bad idea

Jeanne Smith


For Tiverton STOP



  1. While no one wants these tolls, the alternative is not good either. While on the surface, both H-6210/S-989 may have some merits to consider, but the real problem is it does not necessarily fix the problem. I really have doubts about raising 180 million dollars over an eight year period. The sharing of expense through inspections is nice but the figures are too “rosey.” The bad feature is to include 18 new bridges under RITBA at some preset distance….I have serious concerns about considering a ramp off an interstate a bridge.
    Unfortunately, the real answer is within the state budget – if this 180 million figure could be carved out of the wasteful budget we have right now, that would be the way to go. I am sure the number crunchers can find 2% of waste to extract but that’s doubtful – they have not cut a budget in 20+ years.

  2. If we stop giving money to people who refuse to work and put it towards bridges, we’re effectively rewarding (by not charging) those who do indeed contribute to what little economy we have left.