RI taxpayer blunder: Sakonnet River Bridge

Sakonnet River Bridge

The Sakonnet River Bridge is beautiful.

It was finished in 2012.

Two years before that, the battle over tolling the bridge began.

The plan was considered, dropped and then brought back in 2013 when the General Assembly put the new bridge and the Jamestown Bridge under the control of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

Public opposition, which was present when tolling was first being considered in 2010, continued to grow.

However the Chafee Administration wanted a toll and was pushing for it to be installed. The equipment was put in place even before the plans were finalized.

About $4 million worth of tolling equipment was put onto a gantry over the road.

Then in June, the General Assembly changed the law and cancelled the tolls, opting for a new way to fund bridge maintenance.

Currently, there's no more tolling equipment on the gantry. But the $4 million expenditure is still out there.

"Oh yes, we're paying for it," said John Vitkevitch, an anti-toll activist.

He said if the state had let the process play out and not tried to build the tolls to end the argument, the money wouldn't have been spent. Vitkevitch also said switching toll collection contracts cost the state an extra $700,000.

A spokesperson from the RITBA told NBC 10 the tolling equipment could be sold or reused to recoup some of the money.