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UPDATED: Tolls Will Not Delay Sakonnet River Bridge Opening

The Sakonnet River Bridge is currently 40 days past its completion date.

Despite the new Sakonnet River Bridge's northbound lanes opening in July, the bridge's ownership transfer to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority could take some time. 

"It's going to be a process," said Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Bryan D. Lucier. 

On Friday, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority announced they intend to . 

The decision followed the General Assembly's approval of a plan in the governor's budget to  from the DOT to the Turnpike and Bridge Authority. The budget was signed into law Friday. 

The implementation of tolls, however, is not expected to delay the bridge's construction. "We're moving forward," Lucier said. 

The new Sakonnet River Bridge was slated to open in May, but  pushed back the deadline.

The project’s contractors, the Cardi Corp., are required by contract to pay the state $26,500 per day they go over the completion deadline. As of today, the Cardi Corp. is 40 days (including Saturdays and Sundays) past its opening deadline. The bridge was expected to open on May 11. 

[Updated Wednesday at 12:10 p.m.]

Lucier says some elements of the project are expected to continue into 2013. "Work will continue into 2013 on some areas of the new bridge, like the pedestrian path," he wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. 

The $163.7 million project to replace the aging bridge broke ground in April 2009. The bridge connects Tiverton to Portsmouth and the rest of Aquidneck Island.

Joe Sousa. June 20, 2012 at 10:39 AM
It's time to storm the State House . Or will the people of the East Bay just roll over and take another hit ? Nov. is clearly the time to show our dissatisfaction . The East bay needs to change the players . It's go along ,to get along ,as our legislators voted for budgets that cut DOT maintenance, to fund the 3.4 billion dollar Social Service Budget. Democratic control of our legislature Has proven to be detrimental to our state. We need logical conservative thinkers up state to stop the death spiral economy we are trapped in.
Robert Crane June 20, 2012 at 01:31 PM
OK Joe - please tell us your solutions - as well as the impacts of each of the solutions.
Herb Weiss June 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
As soon as they start collecting tolls on Aquidneck Island Residents. Class action litiagation, should be filed immediately. We will be able to show that we've been unfairly targeted with higher tax rates, than other Rhode island communities. The toll is a tax on local residents... Many other bridges in this state, but we the people of Newport County are a class of people being discriminated against.
Herb Weiss June 20, 2012 at 03:07 PM
We should end the RIBTA which cost us about $$$$$$$$ 6.8 Million per year in salaries and benefits along with administrative costs. Let the RIDOT handle and pay down highway bonds and stop this waste of money. This is almost half of the money we collect in tolls on the Pell Bridge. All they do is bid on maintenance contracts which is what RIDOT already does pure duplication...............
Portsmouth runner June 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Your solution to tolls is to give the poor the shaft? That will definitely help a state in the middle of a depression. No, as much as I think the tolls are unfair, there are other ways to pay for the bridge besides cutting social services and raising tolls. For example, RI has no legal obligation to pay $112 million to Wall St. loan holders for 38 Studios. And RI has $66 million in unused Federal transportation funds. That social services budget subsidizes soup kitchens, pays for public housing, welfare programs, etc. But we should probably kick the poor out on the street and force them to go hungry, just because we don't want to pay $5 to cross a bridge. I am completely opposed to the tolls, but I'd rather pay tolls than kick the poor out on the street. We have enough poverty in RI as it is.
getreal June 20, 2012 at 09:20 PM
RIDOT would be a good option but, lets face it they have a less than stella track record. Is RIDOT not part of this whole problem with no maintenance or up keep? The existing bridge should of not needed replacement this early...
Mark D June 20, 2012 at 11:04 PM
I know you are convinced that this would save 6.8 million but you still don't provide proof. RITBA has toll takers (non union also not redundant) Part time customer service personal (non union and non redundant) some administrative personal ok redundant but also non union. THe board of RITBA is volunteer there is no pay for them. THere are are maintenance personal people that walk the bridge, replace lights, maintain the grounds around the bridges once again non union. All of those positions except the administrative ones and possible a couple of maintenance people, are non redundant. If you move those positions to the DOT every one of them becomes a union job with all the benefits. The reason the DOT doesn't want them is because the monies collected would end up as part of the budget as a whole no matter how hard you try not to do that it will happen, and the bridges would suffer. The payroll for RITBA is $3,053,598 Tolls collected $18,235,893 quite a bit less than half. The avg pay for those 45 employees including all taxes and benefits is $66,000 a year obviously some are higher some lower, but I suspect the it would quite a bit higher if you moved them to the state payroll. For the income and expenses of the RITBA refer to the following document. http://www.ritba.org/documents/Financial_Statements_FY2011.pdf Plus what makes you think the DOT wouldn't put tolls on the bridge anyways.
PCosta June 20, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I hope Bristol can handle the extra traffic, because that just became my new direction to go shopping in.
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
$ 6,800,000.00 Salaries and Benefits and Retirement funding... If Non Union why do they need a contract??? That's the real number
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 07:45 PM
The New Sakonnet River Bridge is a puddle jump.... The shortest span bridge anywhere in United States maybe the world with a Toll... What an embarassment to this state ,and we piss away $ 6.8 Million dollars to the RIBTA , so they can have more board meetings... what a joke
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Aquidneck Island needs to also look at the constitutionality of not having equal level highway funding on the Island.
Mark D June 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I don't know where you are getting your figure according to my reading of the financial document posted on RITBA web site direct payment to employees is $2,154,151 total outlay for employee services is $3,053,598 that would normally include all benefits and taxes. The are not part of the state employees union, the do not get a pension they have a 401k plan. If you can please provide where you are coming up with the 6.8 million dollar figure. Maybe I am just reading the information wrong. I would be happy to look at that information.
Mark D June 21, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I don't know but Middletown has received a ton of roadwork in the past few years West Main road East Main rd. Newport has had several roads repaved. I would agree Portsmouth has gotten the shaft lately both our main road a awful E.Main is way to narrow and West Main is crumbling.
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Newport County generates the most tax and casino revenue in the whole state plus an additional $18.23 Million in Pell toll revenue, which no matter how you cut it is a tax. No equal level funding from the state of Rhode Island for bridges and roadways compared other RI communites.
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Maybe the RIBTA can work with Massachusetts on setting up a toll on the Braga bridge in Fall River and have it painted more often. Oh, and the traffic count is huge. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country and charges the most per capita in tolls in the Country. That's something to be proud of..........
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority Expenditures & ETC (2012 Budgeted) 2012 Payroll and Benefits $ 3,147,567.00 2012 Operations cost $ 2,275,450.00 2012 ETC Fund $ 1,319,670.00 TOTAL $ 6,742,687.00
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 08:51 PM
http://www.ritba.org/documents/Budget_FY2012.pdf
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 08:55 PM
$ 6.8 Million is very conservative number and does not include new contract...
Herb Weiss June 21, 2012 at 09:09 PM
2003A Bond Interest $ 896,692 2003A Bond Principal $ 2,370,000 2010A Bond interest $ 2,387,400 Total $ 5,654,092 We spend more on RIBTA, than we do on paying down general Rhode Island highway bonds. That's amazing........
Mark D June 21, 2012 at 09:23 PM
So you proved yourself wrong Payroll and benefits are $3,147,567.00. not 6.8 million. Transferring this to the DOT would not produce the saving you suggest. You just added up everything you think is employee related and call it employee cost. You think heat in the winter time for toll collectors is free, or the electric bill for the Pell and Mt hope. How about the insurance in the event something happens to the bridge think we have the 1 billion it would cost to replace the Pell bridge without it. By the way that is the estimate to replace that bridge. These cost are unique for these structures. The cost would be higher if you transferred operation to the RIDOT, and you would still have a toll on the Sakonnet. I don't see any reference to the ETC fund being employee related but I could be wrong. Also I don't care how many board meetings they have, they don't get paid anyway.
Tom June 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Come on ... This is RI !! Soon we'll find out that the politicians voted to give themselves free transponders for all family members!
Herb Weiss June 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Office expenses leases heating A/C copy machines paper electric advertising accounting firms lawyers consulting telephone cell phones computers uniforms internet furniture coffee water hotel travel gas rental cars professional ,all a waste of money and duplication. If RIDOT managed all Rhode Islanders would pay, with RIBTA we the people of Aquidneck Island and Newport County pay all of it. $$$ $6,800,000.00 WASTED!!! How do you explain we pay down less in RI Highway bonds then on RIBTA operational expenses? My issue is not just with employee expenses, it's all of it, 6.8 Million is the true number and we don't need more government entities. We have people in place on the RIDOT and offices too and we heat and cool them too. Maybe the RIBTA can waste more money and pay for snow removal too. It's laughable
Mark D June 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Ever since we are talking opinion and we all know what that is worth I think you wouldn't realize nearly 6.8 million in savings, you would be lucky to save 1.5 million. Two thirds of those RITBA employees are not redundant and would need to be retained. Some sort of building would have to remain at the bridge so people can buy EZ-pass unless you want all of us to drive to Providence. We still have to light the bridge and the toll booths. Heat and AC for the toll booth still needed. The synergies you are contemplating just aren't there. It's not like a major company that combines with another big company and you don't need 2 accounts receivables, accounts payable, human resources, and payroll. If you combine the RITBA and DOT you eliminate what 10 to 15 jobs max.At the end of the day it doesn't matter the RITBA is here to stay no matter how mad you get, and thank GOD. RIDOT has not Shown any ability to maintain bridges. But you can continue to rail against the tolls. Heck hire a lawyer and sue good luck with that, I don't think you have a leg to stand on, but go for it.
albert June 22, 2012 at 11:29 PM
If all of these bridges are combined, did the new organization just assume the pensions of all the current employees?
Mark D June 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Albert the organization is the RITBA. THis organization has been around for decades, all that has been changed is they are being assigned responsibility for two additional bridges. The two bridges being the Jamestown and the Sakonnet. There are no new employees, and the employees of RITBA do not have pension they have a 401k plans like most of the rest of us have.
albert June 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Mark, Thank-you for sharing your knowledge.

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