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Sakonnet Toll Deadline Extension Heads to Governor's Desk

Lawmakers will have until May 15 to decide on the fate of tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Both the Rhode Island House and Senate approved legislation that would extend the deadline to decide on tolls for the Sakonnet River Bridge from April 1 to May 15 on Thursday, sending the bill to the Governor's Desk.

It is likely that Governor Lincoln D. Chafee will sign the bill, paving the way for it to be enacted by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority voted earlier this week to raise the toll from 10 cents to 50 cents, but the authority has agreed to delay any toll hike until lawmakers figure out how to deal with the state's transportation financing woes.

With the vote, the turnpike authority has set the stage for an increase no matter what the General Assembly decides to do, including a potential bill that would dramatically change the way road and bridge repairs are funded through the creation of a $1 billion infrastructure fund. That bill includes a provision that would eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge altogether and eliminate the turnpike authority, merging it into the state Department of Transportation.

The current 10 cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge was established by lawmakers last year as a placeholder to buy time until the toll issue could be sorted out in this legislative session.

Meanwhile, many residents on Aquidneck Island are increasingly worried about the effect tolls would have on business, tourism and commuters who live on the island but work on the mainland or in Massachusetts.

The bridge and turnpike authority is insisting that new revenue has to come in to pay for ongoing maintenance of all its bridges, not just the Sakonnet River Bridge.

That means that if tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge don't increase, tolls on the Claiborne Pell Bridge will increase instead, from 83 cents to $1.04 for E-ZPass holders and from $4 to $5 for cash-paying drivers.

In an interview, RIBTA Chairman David Darlington said the vote is based on the authority's need to cover maintenance costs for all of the bridges it maintains.
george goncalo March 21, 2014 at 04:24 PM
Does Linc know how to sign his name? What a dumbo. He is the stupidest governor in the nation.
Mark B March 25, 2014 at 02:04 PM
We as Rhode Islanders can save millions a year by getting rid of the RIBTA. If this isn't the biggest waste of money, employing people to watch bridges in our state! I see these guys in their F350's driving around doing what? One guy was on the side of the Mt. Hope Bridge picking up trash, don't our inmates do that? And why is a guy from North Kingston doing everything in his power to push the tolls on the bridge? Does this guy even know where Aquidneck Island even is? Does he understand that Newport, RI brings in 33% of the revenue for this state? This state better focus on staying a state before we have to beg CT or MA to take us over because our ridiculously overpaid government officials are too stupid to understand the running problems we have right in front of us.
Concerned Resident March 26, 2014 at 08:27 AM
mark, good job - same message with a different name. you mention newport without mentioning the pell bridge tolls?? has pell bridge tolls hurt newport?? I'm sure that you protested pell bridge tolls, did you give up?? $0.50 sak bridge toll is going to crush newport?? $0.50 is less than the dd coffee you purchase every morning. hey here’s a thought, why don't we increase taxes so that you can cross the sak bridge for $0 why are you stalking "these" guys on a bridge that by the way does not have a toll? seems that you think that once built maintenance is not required! time for you grow up and do something constructive with your time because let’s face it you feel the state revolves around you and the sak bridge.

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