Bridge Toll Battle Goes to Federal Court - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Bridge Toll Battle Goes to Federal Court

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com 

As the toll booth construction on the new Sakonnet River Bridge continues, there is a court fight trying to stop it.

The Town of Portsmouth wants a temporary injunction against toll collection, because it maintains the toll bridge may be illegal.

Business owners on Aquidneck Island fear the toll bridge will hurt their bottom line.

Ted Karousos owns the Blue Plate Diner in Middletown and said, "The problem is many of us make our money off of tourism. And we're all afraid that that could keep people from coming over the bridges, especially from nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. Owning a restaurant is tough enough as it stands."

A court hearing next week will consider blocking the tolls, while a lawsuit goes forward.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter mark Curtis said, "This could be the last big holiday weekend there are no tolls on the north end of Aquidneck Island. The state wants to begin charging tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge, as of July 1st."

Not everyone on Aquidneck Island opposes the tolls, but some are insisting that the money only be used to repair and maintain the bridge down the road.

Nick Smith, a local taxpayer said, "I am actually not that against it, if it is going directly to that and not being spread out to other things. If it's going to the bridges, go for it. If it's going to the bridges and other stuff, no way."

Many believe the Rhode Island Department of Transportation budget - funded by all state taxpayers - should pay for all bridge maintenance.

That would be instead of raising money from tolls.

 

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