RIDOT: Tractor trailer truck tolling to begin June 11

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced that it is scheduled to implement an all-electronic tolling system for tractor-trailer-only tolling at two locations along I-95 in southern Rhode Island starting on June 11, 2018. The remaining tolling locations will come on line over the next 18 months. (WJAR)

The state of Rhode Island will begin collecting tolls from tractor trailer trucks starting June 11, which is Monday.

The first two of 14 expected toll locations are up and ready to go online after some delays to make sure the system was working properly.

"We knew we were getting close week and a half ago because the systems were getting stable, showing all green," said Peter Alviti, who is the director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

The first two gantries are located on Interstate 95 between exits 2 and 5. Passing through both of those will cost truckers a total of $6.75.

The first two gantries are expected to bring in $7 million annually, with all 14 expected to generate $450 million for the state over the next 10 years.

The cost of operating the gantries will be $60 million over that same time frame.

"There will be a concerted effort to go around those, there will be a concerted effort to go around the state to begin with," said Christopher Maxwell, who is the president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association.

Alviti said the state’s revenue projections take into account a diversion factor, while Maxwell said the cost will be passed along to consumers when trucks do incur the tolls.

The American Trucking Associations calls the truck only tolls predatory and an unconstitutional tax on the industry vowing a “fight by any and all means available,” including legal action, according to ATA spokesman Sean McNally.

"If we prevail in our lawsuit against tolls, either the tolls are going to go away or they're going to pivot and go to cars, and that's the danger for Rhode Island," said Maxwell.

"The fact is we are highly confident we are squarely in the middle of what the law and the constitution allows us to do," said Alviti.

The current legislation does not allow the state to tax passenger vehicles and revenue generated from the tolls must go to bridge rehabilitation.

"They are being approved by federal highway administration only to collect tolls from tractor trailers and only for the purpose of reconstructing the bridges on which they're being placed," said Alviti. “Heavy commercial vehicles, in particular tractor trailers, contribute more to the damage and destruction of infrastructure than any other kinds of vehicles."

But Maxwell disagrees, calling the truck only tolls discriminatory and pointing out that smaller, but heavier dump trucks are exempt from the legislation. He argued an increase in the fuel tax and other vehicle related fees is a fairer way to fund road and bridge repair.

"We're double dipping. We're getting our gas tax our diesel tax, but we're getting another layer of funding, which is tolls, what's next? How much money do you need?" Maxwell said.

Alviti, who said relying on gas tax revenue long term is not a sustainable funding source, added that the remaining 12 gantries will be going up across Rhode Island over the next 18 months.

While locations and amounts are still being finalized, it’s expected tolls will range from $2.00 to $9.50 each time a truck passes under a gantry depending on its location.

Click here for more information about tolling locations.

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