LETTER: Ban Tolls On The Sakonnet River Bridge
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Michael Burk speaks out.
To the editor:
Over the past several legislative sessions, including the 2012 session, our East Bay lawmakers introduced bills banning tolls on the Sakonnet River bridge. I watched with pride as those same lawmakers, side by side and united across party lines, made an hour-long stand during the recent State budget debate against potential tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. This included getting Tiverton a seat on the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) to ensure our voice at the table. Unfortunately, all proposals were ultimately voted down and the bill to transfer authority of the bridge to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) allowing tolls on the bridge passed and is now a reality. So what’s next?
At the July meeting of the Tiverton Democratic Town Committee (TDTC), that was the first question and topic of discussion for its members. I think we all can agree that tolls are going to hurt the local economy and residents and it couldn’t happen at a more challenging time. East Bay residents, who like our members, are already struggling and frustrated are asking “what’s next and what can we do”? I am sharing a few of the thoughts Representative Jay Edwards (District 70), joined by Dennis Canario (who is running for House District 71 in November), shared as steps forward and action ideas:
1) Representative Edwards, along with Senator Walter Felag, are actively lobbying the Department of Transportation Director, Michael Lewis, to change the location of the toll booth from the bridge entry to along Route 24 between the Fish and Stafford road exits. This will allow the continued free transit of goods and services between Tiverton & Portsmouth and give local residents the ability to cross the bridge without paying tolls.
2) These lawmakers will also be lobbying RITBA to keep the tolls a low as possible.
3) Residents should write, call or email Governor Chafee directly. Share your personal stories and the impact this toll will have on you and your family with the Governor.
We should support our state legislators’ continued efforts, but we also can and should take an active role to address this important issue. In the end, we will be able to say we and our legislators did all we could do to mitigate this short sighted idea.
Chairman, Tiverton Democratic Town Committee