Continuing to battle Rhode Island’s truck-only tolling plan, the American Trucking Associations is again questioning how the Ocean State will restrict trucks from avoiding its planned new automated tolls.
The R.I. Dept. of Transportation said on Oct. 5 that it has executed 13 Memoranda of Understanding with the Federal Highway Administration. “These MOUs make clear that the federal government agrees with Rhode Island's program to implement bridge tolls on large commercial vehicles” at the specified locations.
ATA said on Oct. 7 that it has asked Rhode Island to provide information about “outreach the state has done to communities that are likely to be affected by an increase in truck traffic as a result of the state’s extortionary” truck-only toll plan.
“According to one such ‘information packet’ obtained by the American Trucking Associations, [the Rhode Island Department of Transportation] intends to prevent diversion of tractor-semitrailers to potential alternative routes through signage limiting truck access to ‘local services,’ along with a variety of state and local enforcement methods,” ATA said in a letter to R.I. DOT dated September 29.
ATA said it has “serious concerns as to how the contemplated restrictions can be reasonably enforced without imposing an unreasonable burden on motor carriers and their customers, truck drivers, other motorists and the citizens of Rhode Island.”
Along with its federation partner the Rhode Island Trucking Association, ATA has loudly opposed the toll scheme since it was first proposed by Gov. Gina Raimando (D) in 2015.
“We have said from the beginning that the governor and politicians in Providence are attempting to extort revenue from our industry– using the trucks that deliver their state’s goods as a piggybank to avoid making the tough choices that are necessary to maintain the state’s roads and bridges,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.
“We will continue to fight these discriminatory and unjust tolls and as other states have learned, we will not stop until this plan is abandoned," he added.”
“This plan is bad for our industry, but it is also bad for Rhode Islanders who will see costs and congestion rise as a result,” said RITA President Chris Maxwell. “The only beneficiaries of Gov. Raimondo’s plan are her cronies and politicians in Providence who get to once again kick the can down the road when it comes to a real, sustainable highway funding solution.”