A truck-tolling project in Rhode Island, fought by the trucking industry, has received a federal go-ahead. It's expected construction of the first two electronic truck-only tolling locations on Interstate 95 will begin in January.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation received notification from the Federal Highway Administration that the environmental assessment process has been concluded for the first two electronic truck-only tolling locations on I-95.
The FHWA determined that the implementation would have no significant impact on the human environment and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Environmental Assessment, conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
RIDOT will direct its tolling contractor to begin final design of the tolling gantries and associated technology. Construction of the gantries is expected to take place in January, with a period of testing to follow. RIDOT anticipates revenue collection to begin by late February, but only go live with the system when the tolling contractor has certified that all systems are working properly.
In early December, American Trucking Associations challenged the state’s own environmental assessment, urging the FHWA to reject the findings. ATA claimed that the report contained several errors and made clear its opposition to the truck-only tolls, stating that they set a dangerous precedent for other states. ATA president Chris Spear vowed to fight against the truck tolls for as long as it takes and declared the lobby’s intent to defeat the tolling portion of Rhode Works through any legislative, regulatory, and legal means.
Peter Alviti, RIDOT director, said the FHWA's "Finding of No Significant Impact confirms what we have been saying all along, that truck-only tolling will not have an adverse impact on the communities along our highways. It is a fair system addressing a user fee for the large trucks who do the most damage to our roads and bridges, and will provide a dedicated and reliable revenue stream to help maintain our transportation system."
Toll Locations 1 and 2 are both located along Interstate 95 (I-95) in the southwestern part of Rhode Island. Each toll location functions independently of one another and is associated with the reconstruction or replacement of specific bridges in accordance with the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction, and Maintenance Fund state law known as RhodeWorks.