State fire officials are investigating a suspicious electrical fire extinguished early Saturday just after 1 a.m. on the Sakonnet River Bridge.
The fire has been ruled as arson, according to sources. Both the State Fire Marshal's Office and State Police are investigating.
David Darlington, chairman of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, says tolls will still begin Monday despite damage to equipment.
"Today, at approximately 1 a.m. equipment on the Sakonnet River Bridge was intentionally damaged by fire," Darlington wrote. "Police and fire responded to the scene, and the fire was quickly extinguished. A backup system is in place and therefore there will be minimal interruption of the normal operations."
Portsmouth and Tiverton firefighters responded to the Portsmouth side just after 1a.m. for a report of a possible brush fire.
The Department of Transportation was at the bridge Saturday morning evaluating the cost of damage, which is unknown at this time.
Residents near the bridge said they could still smell burning wires Saturday morning.
"Thanks to diligent work by repair crews, the main systems have either been restored or will be within the next several hours. We expect tolling on the bridge will continue as planned on Monday," Darlington said.
"Traffic on the bridge was uninterrupted; the fire affected only nearby equipment, not the bridge structure.
"The destruction of state property is a crime we take very seriously; the matter has been turned over to the Rhode Island State Police and will be investigated and prosecuted. We support the right of civil protest."
The fire comes only a day before a planned protest on the bridge, which spans Portsmouth and Tiverton.
"We have no tolerance for vandalism and arson, which puts lives in peril," Darlington said. "This act of attempted sabotage is not a victimless form of protest. It poses a potential danger to motorists and first responders, and the financial costs of the crime are borne by toll payers."