by Mark Curtis, ABC6 Chief Political Reporter
Opposition to putting tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge just got a big boost.
A bill has been drafted and will soon be introduced in the General Assembly that would outlaw any tolls.
People who live in the area - and their representatives - call tolls unfair to them.
State Sen. Chris Ottiano (R-RI) said, "By tolling this bridge, we pay centrally to all of our taxes. And now we are going to pay again, for this bridge, which is commuter, local, commercial bridge. It's sort of a double taxation."
Critics say the toll will discourage traffic, and harm many small businesses in the area.
ABC6 Chief Political reporter Mark Curtis said, "The state Department of Transportation, under the guidance of Governor Chafee, want the toll on the new Sakonnet River Bridge. What the Governor did not say was whether he would veto the toll ban, if it passes the General Assembly."
The toll amount has not been set.
But the Pell Bridge to Newport is now $4 each way, though residents can get discounts.
The Governor says money from somewhere - including tolls - is needed for the new Sakonnet span.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, (I-R), said, "Well don't forget, we are replacing the Sakonnet River Bridge because we did not maintain it. I don't ever want that to happen, and so we have to somehow make sure we maintain our bridges or we are going to pay double, triple, quadruple down the road."
But opponents say the money should come from the Rhode Island General fund, so everyone in the state pays, and not just those who live near the Sakonnet River Bridge.