Sakonnet River Bridge toll eliminated Friday at noon - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Sakonnet River Bridge toll eliminated Friday at noon

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By: Samantha Lavien

Twitter: @samanthalavien

There were lots of smiles in and around the East Bay Thursday as the news came down that the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge will be eliminated starting Friday at noon.

"Oh my gosh, I'm ecstatic,” said the co-owner of the Publick House in Portsmouth, George Doumaney. “It's just great to see that the whole community can band together and we can defeat this."

"Ecstatic, it's great to see that they are going to get rid of the stupid thing,” said Portsmouth resident Joe Trilling

"I'm just very glad that the toll is coming off the bridge because it is a barrier to trade,” said John Vitkevich a member of the Portsmouth Business Association.

The freshly inked budget by Governor Chafee eliminates the tolls, and instead puts in place a one cent gas tax to make sure that there is funding for bridge maintenance and other transportation infrastructures.

The budget also provides the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority with revenue from the state's existing gas tax.

"This is all I have lived and breathed for the last five years, and I have some constituents who have been doing the same for the last two,” said State Rep. John Edwards.

A ten cent toll went into effect last August. Friday, a switch will be flipped to officially shut off them off. The useable parts of the multi–million dollar system are expected to be stripped in the near future.

And although most are happy to see the tolls come down, there are some who are sad to see them go.

"I think it was a mistake. I think they should have kept the tolls on the bridge. When we are doing this work we have got to pay for it and the user should be the one paying for it not everyone in the state,” said Newport resident Paul Winthrop.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is still working to determine if they will require those who have not paid the tolls over the past year to do so a board vote is scheduled for July.

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