Rhode Island Truck Toll Revised, Still Unwelcomed
The state of Rhode Island is quickly working to implement a $1.1 billion toll revision plan. The new toll plan will collect tolls in 17 new locations along state highways. Revenue gained from the tolls would contribute to the $500 million needed for bridge repairs and other public road improvements. However, the toll bill has one major flaw: only truckers will be responsible for paying the toll.
Currently, there is only one other highway that specifically tolls truckers: The New York State Thruway. It’s a sticky situation because the infrastructure of major roads and highways throughout the country desperately need to be repaired, but they lack the funding. On the other hand, truckers don’t want to be singled out for paying tolls, and avoiding Rhode Islands’ toll roads will only end up hurting the economy. In addition, the state government expedited the proposal, and it leaves many unanswered questions.
Rhode Island Truck Toll Proposal
The original toll proposal was amended this month in an effort to make it more palatable. The revenue bond amount dropped from $700 million to $500 million. The toll to cross the state of Rhode Island also decreased from $50 to $30, and the average toll was dropped from $6 to $3.50. As a result, the plan to fix bridges and other infrastructure components will need to be extended another year.
The goal is to place 17 tolls throughout the state and start collecting within the next two years. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation director estimates that they will generate about $60 million per year. But, the plan is still being met with resistance.
The Proposal Will Be a Detriment to the Trucking Industry
The ATA is not happy with the Rhode Island Truck Toll proposal, and for good reason. The toll would only charge large commercial truckers. The highways in Rhode Island are in desperate need of repair. Of course, this is just a small reflection of the state of the roads throughout the country. The United States is in an infrastructure crisis with more than $740 billion in backlogged repairs. However, truckers aren’t the only vehicles using the roads.
The main concern is that the tolls will directly affect the productivity of the trucking companies, indirectly affecting consumers. Truckers already waste hundreds of hours on heavily congested roads. Having to sit through any of the proposed 17 toll stations will only contribute to the delays. More importantly, more congestion time and more on-the-road expenses will have a negative effect on the consumer marketplace. Shipping rates and product prices will surely increase.
ATA vice president Robert Pitcher feels that the truck toll proposal hasn’t been thought through well enough; there is currently only one other road in the country that imposes a truck-only toll. The Rhode Island Trucking Association agrees, and they suggested the creation of a commission to study how the tolls will change the trucking industry and commerce. Though the toll may seem like a good way to pay for infrastructure changes without directly costing the general public, the consumers will pay in the end.