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Is The Free Ride Over?

A forum at the Burnside Building tonight at 7 addresses concerns over proposed fees for the Mount Hope and Sakonnet River bridges.


Since 1998, Rhode Islanders — especially those on the East Bay — have had the option to get onto Aquidneck Island without paying the tolls the Newport Bridge charges. The free ride could soon be coming to an end and crossing onto the island may soon cost drivers money regardless of the route they take.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority hopes so. The authority — which already approved raising rates on the Newport Pell Bridge — has proposed adding fees to the Mount Hope and Sakonnet River bridges. The tolls would range from 52 cents to $3.25 each way. The Newport bridge is scheduled to increase from $4 to $5 for cash-paying drivers. Those using an E-Z pass pay less than $1.

to the plan and adding the fees, vowing to fight the proposal in the General Assembly.

Tonight, residents can hear the rationale for the toll proposal and voice their concerns. Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (Bristol, Portsmouth) has scheduled a meeting for tonight with Michael Lewis, Department of Transportation director, and David Darlington, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Burniside Building, next to Town Hall, 10 Court St.,Bristol.

Gallison and Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Tiverton, Portsmouth) have introduced bills banning tolls on the Mount Hope and Sakonnet River bridges, respectively, and Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) has introduced both bills in the Senate. All have introduced the bills in previous years, but say they are more concerned than ever about discussions the Turnpike and Bridge Authority has been having about creating new tolls.

“We’ve said time and time again that the Turnpike and Bridge Authority isn’t going to hold the people of the East Bay and Aquidneck Island hostage. If they try to put in these tolls, we will fight them tooth and nail on behalf of our constituents,” Gallison has said.

In order for tolls to be established, the authority would need the General Assembly to pass enabling legislation, and the trio of legislators have  said they would vehemently oppose any such bill.

Mr. B May 14, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Greed in motion
Jack Baillargeron May 14, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Lets see now; Declare it a Historic Landmark, have it put of the National Historic list, run by the Department of the Interior. Use that loop hole that Rhode Island politicians are so good at, to get grants for repair of that Historic Landmark, that freed Aquidneck Islanders to leave the Island in masses, with out passports to ride the ferry. Funny how a State where the politicians in jail out number the petty criminals, we can't figure some scam to take care of this, I mean really, have our criminally minded politicians all finally been jailed. There must be a few left, or why are we still in the top ten for corruption nationwide. Just saying
Greg Parisi May 14, 2012 at 08:10 PM
So the people that live on the Island are being asked to bear the full brunt of tolls in the State? How is that fair? I understand the fees on the Newport Bridge and I'm all for making tourists pay extra (unless there's been a study showing less people visiting since they doubled the toll), but to put tolls on all three bridges is just insane. The State really expects me to pay 4 tolls on my 9 mile commute from Warren to Tiverton?
Jack Baillargeron May 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Frankly I am still confused on tolling of all three bridges, I thought there was a federal Law that Islands must have at least one bridge free of tolls? To Greg, knowing our current gov, if you call him that, of course he expects you to pay 4 tolls. Heck the guy has taxing water we drink, along with meds, med insurance premiums and 2 more pages of things not taxed before on his to do list. Hell he dosn't even know robbing a bank is a Federal Offence. This State has gone insane.
Robert E May 14, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Unfortunately Jack that seems to be a myth I don't know how that got started but a search of the internet turns up no laws that say you can't toll all bridges. I have asked several people who have said this before if they could cite a specific law and everybody herd it for someone they new but nobody could cite the law. The only way on or off Block Island, or Prudence Island is by paying a ferry I don't think the Federal Governmant sees a difference. That being said the RITBA is putting the cart before the horse they are having hearings on a bridge they don't own yet. I think they should wait to see if this is even going to pass the General Assembly. I think our only hope in all this are our state legislators all the other agencies seem to think this is a done deal.
Jack Baillargeron May 14, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I will have to look for it again, I think it is in the "Department of Tranportation Laws" Title 5 somewhere if I remember right. It has to do with taxpayers on federal highway system, must have free access. Also think there is something about emergency evacuation with clear lanes, I.E. no toll booths. I know this was probably when they looked into tolling the New Jamestown Bridge. That was when I read up on it last time I believe. But then again they old grey matter is not what it use to be lol. That is why if the feds agrees to allow R.I. to toll part of 95, then the State must take over all maintenence task of the highway, that is how they couold get around it maybe, or the State build or purchase the section of the highway and create something like the like the Mass Pike. Let you know when I get around to it ;-}.
john May 14, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I thought when the DOT demolished the historical toll plaza, it was determined that there would NEVER be tolls on the bridge again?
Jack Baillargeron May 14, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Found it; If any Federal Funds are used in the Construction of a bridge, tunnel or Highway, they cannot be tolled by law. I believe there s Federal Funding involved in the new bridge is there not? Interesting if there is and the State does not know about this law. Which would not surprise me. Though it would probably seal the deal to put the tolls back on the Mount Hope, which was built with State Monies not Federal though it was also built way befor the 1956 law at the link, that is still in forced. Course it would probably take lawyers a decade, knowing the R.I. justice system to figure it out in any case lol. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/tollroad.cfm On August 21, 1957, the BPR announced that it had added 2,100 miles of toll roads in 15 States to the Interstate System. The inclusions had been recommended by the State highway departments and approved by the BPR. The additions included 1,837 miles in operation. A BPR press release explained: Inclusion of the 2,102 miles of toll roads in the Interstate System will not affect their status as toll roads. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 permits this, although no Federal-aid funds may be used for their improvement.
Jack Baillargeron May 15, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Turns out no Federal Funbds on the Sakonnet Bridge, so they can toll it anytime they want, however I still feel there is a case to be made on them having all three tolled. I still think it would be a violation of the taxpayers rights, with the interstate system, thee has to be a way to get from a to b" with out paying tolls, or you are not giving citizens a choice to get to their homes and property without, paying a fee above and beyond the taxes you pay. I forgot about that one on the highways lol.
Jack Baillargeron May 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Actually if I remember right the found that the cider block booths were not historic and just garbage lol. Originals were probably wood anyway come to think of it. To the no tolls ever again, lol, this is R.I. where any statement made by politicians are never finished with anything definitive. ;-} Change you can believe in after all lol.
John Coccio May 16, 2012 at 01:20 AM
http://www.autoblog.com/2012/05/03/new-cafe-rules-and-a-stagnant-gas-tax-mean-big-deficits-for-infr/ Mileage tax. It's the way to go, unless you want to see ever increasing tolls and gas taxes.
Jack Baillargeron May 16, 2012 at 04:37 AM
The problem with that to me John, is how do you enforce it, with out falling into a Constitutional quandry. Just can't think of a way to track that usage, without violating rights, not to mention the Orwlls 1984 society andgovernment distrust as high as it is and rightfully so in my opinion, on what exactly it is doing in this country right now. Not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, just that here has been too many stories of late, that we all should be a little more wary of what the heck is happening in my opinion ;-}
John Coccio May 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
You track it via the inspection system. When you get the car inspected, the mileage is recorded. It's not rocket science, in the sense that it doesn't have to be 100% accurate. As far as mileage driven out of state, you base it on the average miles driven in state. I'd say that you would be more than welcome to try to prove that you travelled less in state to lower the amount you owe, but will it be worth it for $10-15???
Jack Baillargeron May 16, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Not sure on that either John,in this country, they have to prove it not the citizen if you dispute it. Pesty little Innocent until proven guilty lol. In anycase the ACLU will love this I think. You know how government intervention into gettig information about people is a ot topic now on anyting that allows the government to know your habits. Remember the courts just struck down the putting on of a GPS system on cars to follow a criminal well they were investigating him. I will have to look into it futher I guess to get a better handle on it, to make a more informed opinion I guess lol. But also see ripe for corruption by inspectors, easy money is easy money after all ;-}
Jack Baillargeron May 16, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I don’t know john, there is that pesky, innocent until proven guilty rule in the law. I could also see the ACLU jumping on this full force, as anything to do with information on citizens by the government is a hot thing right now. Libertarians will flip about it I am sure. Well it may sound like a reasonable solution; I still think the problem is mismanagement by the State of the funds they get now in taxes. We are taxed to death on property taxes, and no end in sight on what Chaffee wants too and is taxing, that has never been taxed before. 6 percent tax would apply to currently exempt things like, Computer software, prewritten and delivered electronically, Eyeglasses and contact lenses, Insurance proceeds from destroyed or stolen passenger automobile as trade-in allowance, Purchase of newspapers, on prescription drugs, including medical marijuana, Property or supplies used in the processing or preparation of floral products, and 30 more. 1% tax on would apply to currently exempt things like, Clothing and footwear, Coffins, caskets and burial garments, Compressed air, Containers, Dietary supplements, Flags, Heating fuel used residentially, Renewable-energy products, water for residential use, and 51 more. I mean really, burial garments. How about a little fiscal responsibility from the politicians first, before raising anything? ;-} I am fed up with with this cry for more money, because the politicians are morons.

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