The American Trucking Associations and its state affiliate, the Rhode Island Trucking Association, have called on the Federal Highway Administration to reject the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s environmental impact assessment of the proposed RhodeWorks truck-only toll plan.
ATA said the report, published on Nov. 1, contains numerous errors in in its environmental findings. If RIDOT finds that the toll plan would make no significant impact on the environment, it would be able to move forward with its plan rather than ordering further study.
"The Rhode Island Trucking Association and the American Trucking Associations have identified dozens of errors in RIDOT's Environmental Assessment, which was published last month," said Chris Maxwell, RITA president and CEO. "We are calling upon the Federal Highway Administration to reject the EA and instruct RIDOT to publish a corrected report or to immediately order RIDOT to conduct an Environmental Impact that addresses the issues we pointed out in our analysis."
ATA and RIDOT brought up several issues with the report, including claims that it underestimated the amount of traffic diversion the truck tolls would cause, the outsized financial impact on trucking companies within the state, and overstatement of revenue projections by nearly $20 million.
ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said that the truck-tolling program would establish a dangerous precedent for other states. "This effort is still in the early stages and we intend to fight this battle for as long as it takes.” He declared it is the lobby's intent to defeat the tolling portion of RhodeWorks through any legislative, regulatory, and legal means.
“Implementing truck tolls will increase the cost of goods for every consumer in Rhode Island, which makes the accuracy, transparency, and reliability of RIDOT's public reporting obligations critically important to every Rhode Island family,” said Maxwell. “Given the profound, long term, costly burden on the citizens of our state, RIDOT's fatally flawed EA report cannot be relied upon to make such a critical decision.”