A recent proposal in Rhode Island for a truck-only toll to pay for the state’s ailing road and bridge conditions has been met with blowback from several trucking industry groups.
The American Trucking Associations urged rejection of the truck-only toll plan, saying the organization was disappointed by the Rhode Island Governor’s plan to pass the buck on infrastructure funding to the trucking industry.
“As a former governor [of Kansas], I understand the importance of not only properly funding infrastructure, but maintaining the state’s fiscal house,” said Bill Graves, president and CEO of ATA. “However, this plan to toll only trucks is quite literally highway robbery – stealing from our industry to paper over Rhode Island’s budget issues.”
The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association and the Rhode Island Trucking Associations have also come out against the plan, saying that it unfairly targets truckers, according to a report from the OOIDA publication Land Line.
OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, Mark Matousek, pointed out that truckers already pay several industry-specific taxes to the state and that the Northeast had the highest concentration of toll roads in the country.
“If tolls are the solution to our infrastructure problems, in theory the Northeast corridor would have the best system of roads and bridges in the country,” said Matousek.
The proposed RhodeWorks plan would assess a user fee for large commercial vehicles traveling along several bridges on routes 95, 195, 295, 146, 6 and 10. The fee would be collected electronically without physical toll booths and is expected to generate about $100 million annually.
The toll is explicitly prohibited from affecting passenger and small commercial vehicles and is limited to trucks with three axles or more.
“Like nearly half the states have done previously, the state should enact a law that protects highway related revenues from being used for non-highway or transportation projects,” said Graves. “Then they will have an accurate sense of what, if any, funding shortfall really exists before embarking on some enormously expensive, inefficient, easy to evade and discriminatory form of tax scheme.”