Questions about funding and execution of 10 cent toll remain

Dee DeQuattro

The Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority met Wednesday morning to discuss the new ten cent tolls scheduled to begin on the Sakonnet River Bridge on August 19.

During the meeting the authority was unclear about how they would fund bridge maintenance and operating costs with the new proposed ten cent toll. The authority had initially planned to fund the bridge maintenance and repairs with the initially proposed toll price of .75 cents for in state residents and $5.25 for out of state residents. At the end of session the General Assembly decided to limit the toll to ten cents until April to allow lawmakers to research other ways to fund bridge maintenance.

On top of the lost income from the tolls that were once expected to begin in July the Bridge and Turnpike Authority recently lost approximately $240,000 on a month long EZ pass sale. The sale began June 4 and the authority handed out over 13,000 EZ-Passes at a discounted rate of $10.00.  Consumers purchased the EZ Pass for the price of $20 and $10 is returned to the customers EZ Pass account.

The Bridge and Turnpike Authority also says it is unclear how the 10-cent toll will be implemented. The authority noted that typically if someone passes through the toll without paying the state will send the individual a bill plus the cost of $1.50 for mailing the bill. The authority does not intend to track people down this way with the ten-cent toll but it is unclear how they will be able to charge individuals without an EZ Pass who miss the tolls.

A legislative committee will be formed to address the Bridge and Turnpike Authority's question.