Angry East Bay residents protest bridge toll
Dozens of angry East Bay residents rallied at the State House on Thursday to protest plans to impose a toll on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.
The state intends to charge 75 cents for drivers with in-state EZPass transponders, $3.75 for those with out-of-state transponders and $5.25 for motorists without a transponder.
The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the Federal Highway Administration has approved the toll, which is set to begin in July.
"People think that bridge is a tourist bridge, it's a working man's bridge. People making minimum wage who cross that bridge every day don't have a debit card or a credit card and can't afford to keep $25 you need to hold in abeyance to pay the toll," said Ed Roderick of the Tiverton Town Council.
Small business owners are afraid the tolls will discourage customers and hammer their businesses.
And locals fear the price to cross will only go up.
"The next time they need more cash, they'll hit the toll again. It starts at 25 cents and then will just keep increasing and increasing. We know. Look at the Pell Bridge," said Jeanne Smith of Portsmouth.
However, the tolls have not actually gone up much if you consider inflation. What was $2 a car in 1969, would be more than $13 today.
But protesters are convinced the toll will be terrible for Aquidneck Island and for the state.