DOT To Hold First Bridge Toll Hearing Tonight
The first of two hearings will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth High School.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has organized two workshops next week to allow the public to learn more and ask questions about the financial challenges the state faces in maintaining four of Rhode Island’s largest bridges, and the possibility of tolling the Sakonnet River Bridge.
The state Bridge and Turnpike Authority — needing to add revenue after assuming control of all four major bridges in Rhode Island — has also considered resuming tolls on the Mt. Hope Bridge, but is focusing on the new Sakonnet first.
Where and when
The first workshop is set for Monday, Dec. 3, at Portsmouth High School, according to a press release.
The second workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Tiverton High School. Both meetings take place from 7-10 p.m.
In addition to speaking at the workshops, the public will have the opportunity to provide written comment on the proposal.
RIDOT is hosting these meetings to gain public input on the possible location of a tolling facility, and the impacts a toll could have on other roads on either side of the bridge. All of the comments will be included and considered as RIDOT finalizes a re-evaluation of the bridge’s approved final Environmental Impact Statement that will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for review early next year.
“We understand there are great concerns about introducing a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said in a release. “We look forward to hearing from the public about issues of greatest concern to them and will work diligently to address them wherever possible.”
Transfer of bridge ownership
In spring 2012, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the transfer of ownership of the Sakonnet River Bridge and the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge from RIDOT to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.
A toll facility at the Sakonnet River Bridge would ensure sufficient funding to properly maintain the state’s four longest bridges: The Pell (Newport) Bridge, the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge and the Sakonnet River Bridge.
Revenues from a new toll facility near the Sakonnet River Bridge and the existing toll revenue from the Pell Bridge would be combined to fund ongoing maintenance and capital improvements of all four bridges.
All bridges, and especially those spanning salt water, need ongoing repairs and maintenance. Heavy usage and exposure to the elements cause deterioration that needs to be addressed to ensure bridge integrity and driver safety. These four bridges are among the most expensive transportation assets in the State both in terms of maintenance costs and replacement costs if not properly maintained. Combined, they represent 20 percent of the bridge deck area of all bridges statewide.
Both workshop locations are accessible to persons with disabilities.
Directions to the Workshops
Portsmouth High School
120 Education Lane
From Route 24 South, take Exit 1 (Turnpike Avenue). At the end of the ramp, turn right. Take the first left onto Memorial Drive and follow to the end to the school.
From Route 114 (West Main Road), follow West Main Road north to the intersection with Turnpike Avenue and turn right. Follow Turnpike Avenue south, pass underneath the Route 24 overpass, turn left onto Memorial Drive and follow to the end to the school.
From Route 138 (East Main Road), follow East Main Road north past the intersection with Turnpike Avenue. In 0.7 miles, turn left onto Patriots Way and follow to the school.
Tiverton High School
100 North Brayton Road
From Route 24, take Exit 5 (Fish Road). Follow Fish Road south to the intersection with Route 177 (Bulgarmarsh Road) and turn left. In approximately 1 mile, turn left onto North Brayton Road. The school is on the right.
Anyone with questions can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information may be available on RIDOT’s website (www.dot.ri.gov) and its social media sites on Twitter and Facebook.