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Controversial Rhode Island Truck Tolls Bill Signed Into Law

February 12, 2016

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
A map of preliminary tolling locations from the Rhode Island DOT.
A map of preliminary tolling locations from the Rhode Island DOT.

Rhode Island’s governor signed into law a controversial measure that will impose tolls on commercial trucks traveling through the state — reportedly the only state with a truck-only tolling system.

Under the new “RhodeWorks” plan, 18-wheelers will pay up to $20 to cross the state on Interstate 95. A single truck will be capped at paying $40 a day.

The state House of Representatives passed it 52-21 Wednesday night after seven hours of what one news source called “lively debate.” State senators Thursday passed the bill 25-12 after three hours of discussion. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it shortly afterward.

That “lively debate” was held as dozens of truckers paraded around the statehouse in Providence Wednesday afternoon, blaring their horns in protest, according to WPRI.

The tolls will finance a 10-year plan to repair deteriorating bridges in the state; the state has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country.

Fourteen gantries will be installed to toll trucks in the state. Each of 14 proposed electronic tolls would be about $3. The tolls are expected to bring in around $45 million a year once they are up and running, which the governor said will take at least a year to install.

"When they come through Rhode Island, they don't even stop to get a coffee," said the bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggiero, a North Providence Democrat, as he closed the debate Thursday, according to a report on NBC 10 WJAR. "They just keep on going and wreck our roads.”

The trucking industry and some politicians were against the bill. NBC 10 quoted Bob Lafleur from the Rhode Island Independent Contractors, ”These mom and pop companies run on a shoe-string. We were hoping that they would realize that the impact that this toll program would have is significant.”

Representatives of the American Trucking Associations and the state trucking association said before the bill’s passage that lawsuits will likely be filed challenging the law’s constitutionality.

Last month, ATA cautioned the governor against banking on revenues from tolls that are “premised on truck restrictions that are currently disallowed by federal and/or state law.” Efforts to use state police to keep truckers from exiting the highway to avoid tolls, the association said, would be prohibited by federal law.

Comments

  1. 1. Alamo [ February 16, 2016 @ 03:18AM ]

    Yep , the Democrats are for the " small " Middle Class , and poor people of America. Tax the rich they cry. What a bill of goods they sell through their lies. Democrats never met a tax they didn't like. The disdain I hold for todays politicians is difficult to contain. I will never vote for another " Career" politician.

  2. 2. Art M [ February 16, 2016 @ 03:30AM ]

    Time to stop all freight in and out of R.I. TODAY and not start hauling them anything until this law is repealed.

  3. 3. Mike [ February 16, 2016 @ 04:45AM ]

    Could someone remind me what fuel tax is for? Could someone also remind me why we aren't holding these thieves in our government accountable?

    All these trucks do is drive across our state and don't as much as stop for a coffee on the way thru. I'm sorry, apparently I missed the service plaza along the route. Your neighboring state Connecticut has plazas on their "toll free" highways.

    Let me guess. They can afford this due to the more revenue generated from more miles. They also have more miles to repair.

    Keep your fingers out of the fuel tax revenue. Use it for what it was created for, the roads and bridges!

    The truth of the matter is they are no different than the federal government. If they ran their home the way they run our government, they would be bankrupt.

  4. 4. Kratz Leatherman [ February 16, 2016 @ 10:17AM ]

    So, trucks wreck RI's roads? Maybe they should have built them better, rather than sloppy construction site to kickbacks and corruption. If course, RI could annex Connecticut and then they'd have a lot more miles of roads to collect fuel tax and mileage fees from.
    Does rep. Ruggiero not know that trucks deliver good to his local supermarket so good kids can eat, clothes so they can dress and be warm in the winter, card so he can drive anywhere he wants? Sounds like there's a big disconnect. Sounds like he'd like to ban trucks from Connecticut. Perhaps we should oblige him.

 

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