Jamestown among municipalities opposed to RITBA merging with RIDOT

While nothing is final yet, the resolutions are in response to an idea put forth by the governor to merge the two as a cost cutting measure in the upcoming budget.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Jamestown, Newport, and Portsmouth are opposed to any possible merger of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority with the Department of Transportation.

The Jamestown Town Council passed a resolution in opposition to consolidating the two on Monday night. This follows similar resolutions passed in Portsmouth and Newport in the last week.

While nothing is final yet, the resolutions are in response to an idea put forth by the governor to merge the two as a cost cutting measure in the upcoming budget.

But local officals who use those bridges to get to their respective towns say they don’t want RIDOT taking them over.

“Absolutely appropriate that Jamestown should make evident to the state and to the governor and to whomever, that we support keeping bridge and turnpike as a separate entity,” said Jamestown Town Council Vice President Mary Meagher during Monday’s meeting.

The resolutions each note that the Turnpike and Bridge Authority has maintained the four bridges in their jurisdiction much better than RIDOT has the secondary bridges in the state, which Portsmouth’s resolution notes were recently rated worst in the country. Councilwoman Meagher called RIDOT’s maintenance, “woeful.”

“And I think we would just be in a mess of hurt if we had to maintain it ourselves or had DOT trying to take care of that,” said Meagher. “They’ve not necessarily shown that kind of thoroughness and attention.”

The main concern is that the money used by RITBA to maintain the bridges would then be shifted around to RIDOT’s other projects in the state, and neglect the bridges.

Representative Lauren Carson of Newport noted in a Zoom interview that the Newport Bridge is in the middle of major updates.

“This is not really the time to start transferring bridges around if we’re in the middle of probably the largest infrastructure project on Aquidneck Island since the bridge was built 50 years ago.”

In a statement a spokesperson for the governor confirmed they are looking into consolidation and said, “Any options that reduce costs and promote efficiencies in state government must be on the table.”

ABC 6 reached out to RITBA and RIDOT for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Categories: Newport, News, Rhode Island