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RITBA Says Tolls Are Coming to Sakonnet River Bridge

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority announced Friday they will not increase tolls on Pell Bridge, but will collect tolls on new Sakonnet River Bridge.

The following is from a press release issued by RITBA. 

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) will . 

In February, the board had voted to raise revenue needed to fund bridge maintenance by moderately increasing the cash and E-ZPass rates unless a separate new toll was approved by state lawmakers. 

On June 8 and 11, the R.I. House and R.I. Senate, respectively, passed the FY13 budget; and today, the governor signed it. Contained within is the institution of . 

Ownership of the Sakonnet Bridge will be transferred from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to RITBA, who will manage the tolling, maintenance and operations.

The Jamestown Bridge will also become RITBA’s property and will remain toll-free. 

“As a result of the budget being signed into law today, RITBA will hold the price of the toll to current rates,” said David A. Darlington, chairman.  “We made that promise in our February vote, which was taken after a months-long period of public scrutiny of our financial and long-range bridge maintenance plans. 

"We thank Governor Chafee, the leaders of the General Assembly, and the membership for entrusting the maintenance of the four bridges – all vital transportation structures – to the care and keeping of RITBA.  We pledge to continue RITBA’s tradition of excellent maintenance to ensure that the bridges are safe.”

Darlington stated that the toll collection system on the Sakonnet River Bridge will be similar to the new open road tolling (ORT) system about to make its debut on the Newport Pell Bridge. 

Later this month, drivers with E-ZPass transponders can use the new E-ZPass-only lanes and drive through the toll plaza without stopping. For the Sakonnet River Bridge, an all-electronic toll collection system is being contemplated. 

Cameras mounted on the toll plaza will take photos of license plates, and motorists who today pay by cash would instead receive invoices in the mail for their outstanding tolls. 

“Open road tolling on the Newport Pell Bridge will help reduce waiting times in the cash lanes and is faster and more convenient overall,” said Darlington.  “Through a public-private partnership, RITBA is providing an improved toll collection system as requested by the public.”

RITBA does not receive state or federal monies.  All maintenance on the Newport Pell and Mount Hope Bridges is funded by toll revenue.  After two years of public discussion and formal study, the board voted on September 8, 2009 to increase tolls for the first time in the 43-year history of the Newport Pell Bridge.

Editor's note: The RITBA did not state any amount of toll within the release. The amount is unknown at this time. 

Robert E August 10, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Robert Rhode island can't pass a law allowing the use of medical marijuana because the federal government says so but they did. Let the state go ahead and toll the Washington bridge what are they going to do. It is about time the states stand up to the federal government, If they are not going to help us we need to help ourselves.
Nomoore Alredy August 14, 2012 at 03:52 AM
You forgot to mention the outrageous tax we pay now to BUY town trash bags at $10 for ten tiny 13 gallon ones! Since gas prices have risen over 3 dollars I RARELY go anywhere far or that I don't have to go. I have alot of Doctors on the island, I'm not about to pay $8 each time I see them PLUS gas. So, it's been nice, but I won't be travelling to Newport, or Middletown, once the toll goes up. It's going to turn into a ghost town. People making minimum wage aren't going to commute & pay $8 extra. Who on EARTH would think that's a FAIR toll? I used to have to travel 2x a day that would be $16 a DAY! when is this going to stop????
FYI August 22, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Now onto the toll. Without a doubt, Newport County has been and is being discriminated against by being overly taxed and expected to pay the highest living costs in the state of RI. Where are the lawyers of Aquidneck Island? As I understand the Governor will be visiting Portsmouth Town Hall Thursday Aug 23 at 8:30 AM. Before he arrives tomorrow, I thought you may want to know what I found. I am not a lawyer, so what I see may be inadequate, but none-the-less interesting.
FYI August 22, 2012 at 02:00 PM
According to the Interstate Highway System Route 24 is part of the interstate infrastructure and is considered a “freeway”. Now according to the federal government's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices a “freeway” is a divided highway with full control of access and is "free-flowing". It also states “The advantage of grade-separated interchanges is that freeway drivers can almost always maintain their speed at junctions since they do not need to yield to vehicles crossing perpendicular to mainline traffic.” (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov) The other interesting fact is that Newport County already has 2 tolls, 1 going off & 1 going onto the Newport Pell Bridge. Under “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Sec. 1604. Tolling” it stated that a state can not have more than 3 tolls. Although I think this information was for states who share in the cost of maintaining tolls. Like I said before, I am not a lawyer so I may be seeing this information in the wrong context, but I did find it interesting. Hence the word “FREE” - WAY Can Route 24 (Freeway) really be obstructed with a Toll?
TD August 22, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I'm not a lawyer either, but the proposal we've heard is that the toll would be a rolling toll, no obstructions, just sensors and cameras - people just drive on thru like you would when you enter the NJ Turnpike. I don't think the Free in Freeway is to be defined as No-Charge. Interesting what you say about the 3 tolls though. There must be a way around that as NY has way more than 3 tolls.

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