Tolling for trucks in Rhode Island

On Monday, June 11th, 2018, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will officially begin tolling “tractor-trailers to pass two locations on Interstate 95,” as reported by the Providence Journal.
   According to the RIDOT, “The RhodeWorks bridge tolling program is a unique approach to repairing bridges by tolling only specific types of tractor trailers,” as indicated in the diagram below:
   “The tolls collected at each location in Rhode Island will go to repair the bridge or bridge group associated with that toll location,” RIDOT reports. This announcement comes two years after RIDOT introduced RhodeWorks, which “provides for the planning, execution, management and funding to bring the state’s roads and bridges into a state of good repair by 2025.”
   When asked if there are plans in place to begin tolling other vehicles on the road, RIDOT is clear: no. As RIDOT explains, “The rationale behind the RhodeWorks tolling program was to toll the vehicles that caused the damage that needs to be repaired.”
   Toll amounts will vary “from site to site, ranging from $2.00 to $9.50. The median cost is $3.50.” The two tolls that will begin charging vehicles on Monday will support construction on “the I-95, Wood River Valley Bridge (over Mechanic Street)” and “the Baker Pines Bridge (I-95 over Route 3) and the Tefft Hill Trail Bridge (I-95 over Tefft Hill Trail).” These tolls will be collected via E-Z Pass, and “those without a valid E-ZPass will receive a bill that can be paid by check or credit card.”
   Located in the southwestern corner of Rhode Island, these tolls will charge $3.25 and $3.50, respectively. “For RFID (i.e. E-ZPass) equipped tractor trailers, tolls are limited to once per day, per direction and there is a cap of $20 for a through-trip on I-95 as well as a daily cap of $40 per day no matter how many tolls a tractor trailer goes through.”
   “The two locations in the southern part of the state will collect $7.2 million in tolls annually, officials estimate.” RIDOT plans to construct as many as a dozen more gantries across the state through RhodeWorks. RIDOT notes that “Rhode Island ranks last in the U.S. in overall bridge condition,” and its director anticipates the tolls will “provide the sustainable, dependable and reliable funding we need.”
   In forecasting the impact of the charges, Christopher Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association remarked that the tolling is “going to increase our consumer good costs and our cost of living. Everything we eat, drink, wear watch and drive is delivered by truck. It’s going to hurt our economy.”
David Heller, vice president of government affairs at the Truckload Carriers Association says that “the toll in this instance is just not a good thing,” noting that it is “definitely targeting the trucking industry.” He pointed to the unfairness of the charges against trucks in particular: “The cars on the road with them are not being tolled, but they’re causing the same amount of damage as the trucks.”
   “We need to look at these things and make sure it’s right way” to approach the issues at hand, Heller concluded.