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Newport County Chamber Calls for No Tolls on Sakonnet Bridge

The Newport County Chamber of Commerce supports local lawmakers' efforts to find sustainable funding for bridge maintenance other than relying on tolls.

 

The Board of Directors of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce recently voted unanimously to support Sen. Louis DiPalma’s bill to freeze tolls on the Newport Bridge and prohibit tolling on the Sakonnet River Bridge. 

Co-sponsored by Sens. Teresa Paiva Weed, Walter S. Felag, Christopher S. Ottiano and David Bates, DiPalma’s bill is unique from all other legislation relating to bridge tolling. Senate Bill 0242 would prohibit tolling on the Sakonnet, Mt. Hope and Jamestown Verrazano Bridges and stop any future increases in toll rates on the Newport Pell Bridge. 

This bill is the first to address the need for a sustainable funding mechanism for bridge maintenance and for state Department of Transportation (DOT) funding, making it the first real opportunity for a funding stream in lieu of tolls. 

“Instituting tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge will negatively impact all Rhode Island residents and businesses by increasing the cost of living and of doing business in Newport County and the East Bay," said Laura Pedrick, chair of the Chamber Board of Directors. 

Pedrick also noted that additional tolls would:

  • Increase the cost of goods and services to Aquidneck Island and the East Bay. 
  • Increase the cost of doing business to all Aquidneck Island businesses. Increase the cost to commuters who travel the toll bridges. 
  • Increase the cost of compensation/recruitment for employers seeking qualified candidates from Southeastern New England.
  • Decrease our competitive position in preparation for the anticipated 2015 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process by increasing the  commuter cost for the Defense industry including  Raytheon, NUWC and Naval Station Newport employees who commute over tolled bridges 

“This is an issue of equity and fairness," said DiPalma. "Any additional tolls would place an unfair burden on Newport Pell and Sakonnet Bridge users. We would be the only communities in the state required to pay for the maintenance of our own transportation infrastructure.”

“Expansion of tolling to the Sakonnet River Bridge sets a dangerous precedent for future State highway and transportation infrastructure projects," said Chamber Executive Director Jody Sullivan. "Rest assured that if this toll passes there will be a toll coming soon to a neighborhood near you. The Chamber and its members will work together to gather support for this bill”.

The Chamber Board also expressed concern that a comprehensive analysis of the real economic impact to the existing and future business environment, cost of living, and employment and workforce, has not been completed. The Chamber will forward copies of the attached resolution to local, state and federal government officials.

 

What do you think? Do you support Sen. DiPalma's bill? Have your say in the comments section below.

Kathleen Moran April 18, 2013 at 11:21 AM
It will cost my son 50 dollars a month in tolls to come to Bristol from New Bedford to bring my grandchildren to my house. He works in Dartmouth. Then he has to come and pick up the children. RI is one of the highest unemployment states. How does this make sense to add more burden. I guess he will just use the Braga bridge and create more traffic tie ups from Warren to Bristol. I know who to vote for next election.
Shutterbug ! April 18, 2013 at 04:04 PM
These tolls will have a devastating effect on Warren and Bristol traffic as travelers will be seeking new routes to avoid the tolls. Expect increased truck and motorcycle traffic in these towns, as well, as businesses will be sending their deliveries through Bristol and Warren in order to decrease their operating costs. As for the small businesses on the island, they will be impacted severely.
Bill Cardoza April 18, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Let's see what us Mass residents will pay to come to work here on the island - $7.50/day X approximately 225 days = about $1,700/year. That's one months mortgage. No money to visit Newport any longer. Way to go RI.
Karen April 18, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Not to mention, on top of the toll, if you don't have an ez pass, they're going to charge an additional $1.50 to send you the bill in the mail!! That's over 10$ for a round trip! That's such bull.. I work and go to school in Newport and come from Fairhaven. I work hard 5-6 days a week just to keep my roof over my head and barely keep myself fed. Now I get to pay EXTRA (not even counting the 40$/wk I spend on gas) just to get to work? What the hell kinda good is that going to do?

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