Bridge authority pushes drivers to buy E-ZPass

A plan revealed by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority pushes drivers to buy an E-ZPass transponder this summer.

The Sakonnet River Bridge tolls will cost 75 cents for drivers with a Rhode Island E-ZPass, $3.75 for drivers with an out-of-state E-ZPass. The cash fare is $5.25.

An automated system will take a picture of each car that crosses the Sakonnet Bridge and mail a bill to the address under which the car is registered.

"Our plan is to have it operational by early July," RITBA chairman David Darlington said.

None of the RITBA board members would explain the potential consequences for failing to pay the $5.25 fee, but at the Newport Pell Bridge, failing to pay can be costly.

First, drivers receive a $6 fee in the mail. If the fee isn't paid within 30 days, drivers receive an $85 fine. If the $85 fine is not paid, the driver receives a summons to the Traffic Tribunal where the driver risks losing his or her license.

The board said even casual visitors to Aquidneck Island this summer would benefit from buying the Rhode Island E-ZPass. It said it's working on offering out-of-state drivers an in-state pass to help mediate costs.