Tolls to start Aug. 19; collection issues remain
Although collection methods remain uncertain, Sakonnet River Bridge 10-cent tolls will be assessed starting Monday, Aug. 19.
That fact was proclaimed by an electric sign late at the bridge last week.
"State law says that there will be a toll (as of Aug. 19) so there is no getting around that," said David Darlington, director of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA).
Motorists with EZ-Pass will be assessed the dime toll each way automatically.
Those without EZ-Pass are also obligated to pay, although RITBA has not yet decided how that will happen.
Mr. Darlington said various options are being explored, among them an automated phone or website that people could use to settle their account.
"However, the onus will be on the driver to make the payment," Mr. Darlington said, not for RITBA to track drivers down and send a bill. Signs will be installed to give drivers "plenty of warning" that a toll bridge is approaching and that motorists have an obligation to pay. And by the 19th, signs should also make it clear how non-EZ-Pass drivers will make that payment. "Waiting for a bill is not a legal option."
RITBA also has not yet decided how the "act of pursuing people" who do not pay will be handled.
Options there include an assessment for multiple crossings (at 10 cents each) along with some sort of penalty for non-payment.
"The ridiculous thing would be to pay 40 or 50 cents for letter and stamp to collect a dime," Mr. Darlington said. "We are still trying to get our hands around that issue … But if you are a non-payer, you will be pursued as a non-payer."