New version of controversial truck toll in RI heard

By Rebecca Turco

The issue of truck tolls to pay for road repairs is back in play once again at the State House.

The hearing took hours Thursday evening with dozens of peoples signed up to speak about the bill.

Most opinions split down the middle with different views on the revised version of a controversial bill to toll commercial trucks coming through Rhode Island.

The 10-year, $4.8 billion “Rhode Works” plan aims to make nearly all of the state’s roads and bridges structurally sound.

“I think the one thing everyone agreed on is that our infrastructure is in terrible shape and it needs some significant investment, regardless of whether they’re in favor of this bill or against it. The question is how to pay for it,” said Senator Daniel DaPonte, the Finance Committee Chairperson.

The changes from the original proposal include reductions to the toll—what was six bucks would now be $3.50. The 9-year plan would be stretched to a 10-year program that ends up saving close to $80 million.

“We think that we’ve created a revenue stream that is not only reliable, but also equitable and fair,” said Peter Alviti Jr., Director of RIDOT.

The fairness of this bill was debated at the senate hearing: people from the trucking business don’t like it, while the teamsters love it.

“Everybody shares these roads. All the four-wheelers share these roads. Let them share the burden of paying for the roads,” said Frank Nardone, a truck owner and operator.

The discussion isn’t over yet, but according to the finance chairman, the clock is ticking.

© WLNE-TV 2015