Bridge commission meets Wednesday in Providence

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PROVIDENCE — The Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for East Bay Bridges will convene at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, in Room 35 of the State House.

Commission members will have the opportunity to present personal statements they submitted for inclusion in the report regarding alternative funding for bridges and infrastructure in Rhode Island. Under legislation passed last year, the panel was asked to report its findings by Jan. 15. Those findings will also be reviewed.

The commission, co-chaired by Rep. Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), was established during the 2013 legislative session to allow lawmakers and state officials an opportunity to investigate all types of equitable and reliable funding mechanisms and strategies to support Rhode Island’s bridges.

Last year, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) authorized a 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge in order to preserve future tolling options while the commission worked to find alternatives and assess infrastructure funding for the East Bay community. The 10-cent toll cap will be in effect until April 1, 2014.

Members of the public can find additional information and video of the commission’s previous hearings at webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/bridgefunding.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.