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DOT To Hold First Bridge Toll Hearing Tonight

The first of two hearings will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth High School.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has organized two workshops next week to allow the public to learn more and ask questions about the financial challenges the state faces in maintaining four of Rhode Island’s largest bridges, and the possibility of tolling the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Where and when

The first workshop is set for Monday, Dec. 3, at Portsmouth High School, according to a press release.

The second workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Tiverton High School. Both meetings take place from 7-10 p.m.

In addition to speaking at the workshops, the public will have the opportunity to provide written comment on the proposal.

RIDOT is hosting these meetings to gain public input on the possible location of a tolling facility, and the impacts a toll could have on other roads on either side of the bridge. All of the comments will be included and considered as RIDOT finalizes a re-evaluation of the bridge’s approved final Environmental Impact Statement that will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for review early next year.

“We understand there are great concerns about introducing a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said in a release. “We look forward to hearing from the public about issues of greatest concern to them and will work diligently to address them wherever possible.”

Transfer of bridge ownership

In spring 2012, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the transfer of ownership of the Sakonnet River Bridge and the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge from RIDOT to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

A toll facility at the Sakonnet River Bridge would ensure sufficient funding to properly maintain the state’s four longest bridges: The Pell (Newport) Bridge, the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge and the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Revenues from a new toll facility near the Sakonnet River Bridge and the existing toll revenue from the Pell Bridge would be combined to fund ongoing maintenance and capital improvements of all four bridges.

All bridges, and especially those spanning salt water, need ongoing repairs and maintenance. Heavy usage and exposure to the elements cause deterioration that needs to be addressed to ensure bridge integrity and driver safety. These four bridges are among the most expensive transportation assets in the State both in terms of maintenance costs and replacement costs if not properly maintained. Combined, they represent 20 percent of the bridge deck area of all bridges statewide.

Both workshop locations are accessible to persons with disabilities.   

Directions to the Workshops

Portsmouth High School
120 Education Lane

From Route 24 South, take Exit 1 (Turnpike Avenue). At the end of the ramp, turn right. Take the first left onto Memorial Drive and follow to the end to the school.

From Route 114 (West Main Road), follow West Main Road north to the intersection with Turnpike Avenue and turn right. Follow Turnpike Avenue south, pass underneath the Route 24 overpass, turn left onto Memorial Drive and follow to the end to the school.

From Route 138 (East Main Road), follow East Main Road north past the intersection with Turnpike Avenue. In 0.7 miles, turn left onto Patriots Way and follow to the school.

Tiverton High School
100 North Brayton Road

From Route 24, take Exit 5 (Fish Road). Follow Fish Road south to the intersection with Route 177 (Bulgarmarsh Road) and turn left. In approximately 1 mile, turn left onto North Brayton Road. The school is on the right.

Anyone with questions can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information may be available on RIDOT’s website (www.dot.ri.gov) and its social media sites on Twitter and Facebook.

FYI December 03, 2012 at 04:01 PM
How are ALL the tolls in RI located in 1 county "not discrimination”? This "tax" does NOT "treat everyone equally”! How do people from Kent, Washington, and Providence Counties "treated" for this "tax" when most will never come over to Newport County & pay a toll? I say put all other tolls in those counties. If every county had 2 tolls, like Newport County already does, 2 on the Newport Pell Bridge, then it would be fair and everyone would be "treated equally". I am also glad to see that you checked out all my links. I give permission to anyone who would like to speak about these FACTS at any of the public hearings, I’m too chicken to speak up. Thank you.
Portsmouth Business Association December 03, 2012 at 09:32 PM
FYI. Good thoughts and comments. Call Ray at 682-2007.
RCR December 03, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I would like to know why RIDOT can transfer the bridge not the debt. Newport Bridge probably would not take the debt but sure will take the gold from the tolls. Make it fair, get the bridge pay the bond issue and give the people of RI back the money it is spending to pay for the bridge.
bigjim360 December 04, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I would suggest you all stay home, its a done deal, when you elected the current governor he transferred the responsibility of maintenance of the bridges from the state of RI to the RIBTA. So now the RIBTA has the requirements to maintain the bridges, so guess what, tolls, you get what you asked for, minority rules in the state and the idiots who keep electing the current regime can all live with it, ha ha.
bigjim360 December 04, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Oh and I forgot, every time you vote yes on road bond issues during state elections your adding to the debt service on that bond, so that means less money towards maintenance and more towards debt........so enjoy, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

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