R.I. singles out trucks for tolls
Rhode Island is embracing road tolls in an interesting way, with a plan to assess the fees only on big-rig trucks.
The idea, conceived by Gov. Gina Raimondo and backed by key Democratic lawmakers, is a way for Rhode Island to have its cake and eat it, too. Out-of-state truckers will pay most of the tolls and the money will be used to help finance repairs of the state’s crumbling bridges.
The law authorizing truck-only tolls passed in February and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation began looking for a contractor to build the tolling system this week. If all goes as planned, two tolling facilities on I-95, in Hopkinton and Exeter, will go up within six months, with 11 more to follow. When all the work is done, an 18-wheeler will pay $3 per toll or a maximum of $20 to travel from Connecticut to Massachusetts on I-95.
Raimondo plans to use the toll money along with federal and state dollars to finance a decade-long, multibillion-dollar effort to repair the state’s bridges. Rhode Island has 1,162 bridges, more than half of which are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, twice the national average.
Once the tolling gantries are up and running, Rhode Island will be the only state in the nation with truck-only tolls. Most other states toll all vehicles, but charge truckers more. In Massachusetts, for example, it costs $7.45 to travel the length of the Massachusetts Turnpike in a two-axle passenger vehicle and $47.80 in a nine-axle vehicle.
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