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State Sponsored Piracy

Why tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge? Commuters are easy prey!

The State of Rhode Island is bleeding to death from self inflicted wounds. The General Assembly has decided rather than correct the problem with a tourniquet it will attempt to slow the bleeding by opening a new wound.

The General Assembly has backed itself into a corner…again, and is trying to fight its way out. They look at 40,000 cars crossing the Sakonnet Bridge every day and see nothing but $$$$. Having gone to the voters for bond money to obtain the required RI 20% matching funds to qualify for the 80% Federal funds each year for decades the now $50,000,000 Department of Transportation debt eats a rather large hole in its $90,000,000 budget. So, the Governor and General Assembly are looking offshore to Aquidneck Island and have fashioned a revenue enhancement scheme on the Somali piracy model.

Shaking down local and out-of-state commuters for maintenance dollars for the Sakonnet and Jamestown Bridges, subsidizing the Newport and Mt. Hope bridges (so the Newport Bridge toll does not have to be increased) and paying for maintenance of all other roads and bridges in the East Bay is highway piracy.  To follow this up with using East Bay gas tax dollars to bolster bridge and road maintenance funding in the West Bay is pure plunder.

The toll is rapacious, and a grave threat to the regional economy and jobs.

The General Assembly’s irresponsible and reckless spending habit has crippled RI infrastructure under a mountain of debt.  Their solution is; Soak area commuters, locally dispersed families, and commercial traffic while starving the East Bay economy.

The Department of Transportation needs more than $200,000,000 every year for the next ten years to complete its backlog of road and bridge maintenance projects across the State. The reason for the funding shortfall is decades of incompetent budgeting of our tax dollars.  Rather than cut spending on all manner of pet “indispensible” programs, our Governor and legislators have stepped “outside the box” and discovered an innovative funding scheme to correct the situation.  Since the gasoline tax revenue collected across the State is insufficient for DOT to complete its mission, a new tax on Newport and Bristol County residents and businesses has been established in the guise of a toll. 

Instead of funding road and bridge maintenance in Newport and Bristol counties with gasoline tax revenue collected for this purpose, these projects will now be funded by a Sakonnet Bridge toll.  This plan allows all gasoline tax revenue, including gasoline tax collected in Newport and Bristol Counties to be dedicated to funding DOT maintenance projects in Providence, Kent and Washington Counties. 

Legislators in the West Bay are elated since they will be enriched with all the East Bay gas tax dollars to pave and repair roads and bridges in their counties. Their support for the plan is not surprising and their constituents will be pleased. That is, until, the shortfall again becomes unwieldy. Only then, when the first RITBA toll booths sprout on highways and bridges in their neighborhoods, will West Bay residents understand the long range benefit of the new taxing authority.

Joe Robicheau
Portsmouth Town Council, President

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

tivertontrue November 01, 2012 at 06:02 PM
tolls will have a bad impact on Newport county, I think any elected person who voted for them as part of the final budget should be voted out, I've been told "But there where many very important things in the whole budget1"? more important than killing jobs and taking money staright from the people who elected YOU?If Tolls aren't stopped and put in place i guess you all will need Bridge crew jobs, because I'm sure voters will remember
John November 01, 2012 at 06:21 PM
There are two "John"s on this post. The fact still remains, making blanket statements about the money being "robbed" and telling half truths in an attempt to self promote is a waste of time. The east bay is underrepresented in the house and senate, so while a group of you continue to bemoan the current crop of legislators, I'd ask what else would you like them to do? What else could they have done apart from oppose the budget? With an insuffient number of votes, nothing could have prevented the bridge from being transferred to RIBTA. Let's look on the bright side of things. At least now, we will have a bridge that can be maintained by an organization that is pretty damn good at maintaining bridges. I'd add to the conversation that the biggest impact to our local economy is the possible closing of the base in Newport via the BRAC or even naval command just moving jobs. If the sakonnet river bridge wasn't transferred, the Pell bridge would be looking at an increase in toll which could negatively affect the Navy's decisions to keep operations in Newport. It's not all bad. Unfortunately the tolls are here to stay. Let's focus our conversations on things we can control, like making RI a better, more attractive place for businesses. That's what I plan to do...
paul November 01, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Horseneck Beach is just as nice as Newport and the Braga Bridge will remain toll free. If they bill me for going over the Sakonnet Bridge it's just another case of taxation without representation! Sakonnet River or Jamestown would both be nice venues for a tea party.
tivertontrue November 01, 2012 at 06:43 PM
BRAC could care less about a rise in tolls on the Pell bridge NUSC workers from CONN. get a special rate now, t Have YOU heard one word from the feds, NUSC? war college, rhat's a FACT, RI puts tolls on the Sakonett River Bridge and you can bet BRAC will stand up and take notice, if will imeditly raise the cost of living on thousands of workers and the cost of contracts, FACT!Not one word from NUSC, Raytheon, OCS the Navy? WHY? Because this is a state issue, they have no say in this until tolls are imposed or not, The Ga is about to bag Newport county and you think it's not a bad deal???
Debora Valente November 07, 2012 at 05:24 PM
STOP makes perfect sense. It reflects the feelings of many. Stop the toll from infiltrating the working man and woman of the East Bay and solve the issue by taxing all the Rhode Island Road Usage participants. I love the registration idea with $2 going to the fund, Raise the registration by $2 for all and it will help defray the mismanagement. Stop the bleeding please.

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