Letter: Replace Tolls With Mileage Tax
Bristol resident advocates for the elimination of bridge tolls and steep cuts in gas taxes, replacing all with an annual fee based on miles driven.
In seeing all the negative feelings surrounding the toll increases and proposed new tolls, I have a suggestion I would request you entertain.
First of all, I applaud the efforts of RITBA in keeping the Mount Hope and Pell bridges the best and safest in the state. Considering how old they are and in what excellent condition they are in, it is shamefull that the other major spans in this state can't last more than 50 years w/o falling down. That is unaccepable!!!
However, we all know this costs money. Nobody can doubt that. But, these funds are beginning to dry up. Consider a recent Congressional Budget Office report that indicates the Federal Highway Trust Fund has taken in more money than it has spent only once in the last 11 years. This is due to the fact that new laws are requiring more efficient cars, and they use less gas — some use none at all, so less gas tax dollars are funding roads. But they all chew up our roads and bridges, that is for sure.
I would propose that we here in RI eliminate tolls! Roll back the fuel tax to 5 cents per gallon. Eliminate the excise and sales tax on cars. Replace it with one tax — a mileage-based tax that would be based on odometer readings taken at the time of inspection.
Now, for the sake of argument, lets set that rate at 7 cents per mile. At that rate, based on 12,000 miles, one would owe $840 for the year. This could be broken up into quarterly payments like the excise tax is. In many ways, while this seems like a lot of money for a year, it is like amortizing the sales tax over the life of the ownership of the car.
Of that $840, some could be directed to cities and towns to pay for local road repair and snow removal (in lieu of excise taxes); some directed to the state for state road repair and snow removal, as well as new infrastructure. The rest will go to RITBA to maintain all the major spans in the state, including the Pawtucket River bridge, Washington and I-way bridges, and the Providence Viaduct. I trust your organization to do this more that the DOT.
This plan would spread the cost of maintanance to all car owners in the state, as they all chew up our roads and bridges, yet still collect some from out-of-staters who will be coming to RI to buy their gas, as it will now be much cheaper than in Mass and Connecticut.
If it would make some feel better, we could still have a toll booth on both sides of 95 in Hopkington. This would be done by building a service/rest area on both sides of 95 like they have in CT. Think of all the 18-wheelers lined up gleefully paying their $5 "toll" while getting 100 gallons of fuel. They could also relax and have dinner at the Gregg's or Chello's or Newport Creamery we would have there (gotta keep it with the RI flavor).