PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A national trucking industry group has filed a lawsuit against the Rhode Island Department of Transportation over “unconventional” tolls, arguing that large commercial tractors are being unfairly targeted.
The suit was filed in Providence federal court by Virginia-based American Trucking Associations, and claims RIDOT tolls violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The co-plaintiffs, Cumberland Farms, New England Motor Freight and MM&M Transport Services are asking for an injunction to stop the tolls, and repayment of legal fees.
“We’ve maintained since day one, that the truck-only tolling component of RhodeWorks is unlawful and this comprehensive law suit offers clear, unequivocal proof,” Christopher Maxwell, President/CEO of the RI Trucking Association, noted in a press release Tuesday. “The Raimondo administration, Speaker Mattielo, and RIDOT Director Alviti force-fed RhodeWorks into legislation with misleading and inaccurate propaganda. Furthermore, they implemented this tolling scheme with tremendous arrogance and reckless disregard for the RI taxpayers and business community who will ultimately get stuck paying the bill for this ill?conceived tolling scheme.”
Maxwell added that the tolls do not fairly approximate motorists’ use of the roads.
"Since the RhodeWorks plan was first proposed, the trucking industry has been strong and united in warning politicians in Rhode Island it is unconstitutional and should be rolled back,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “It is unfortunate that Gov. Raimondo and her administration did not heed those warnings, but now we will see them in court.”
The tolls started June 11 as part of a $5 billion infrastructure plan to repair bridges and roads across the state, and will eventually expand to 14 sites.
“This is a lawsuit we expected,” a spokeswoman for RIDOT noted in a statement. “We are prepared to defend the tractor trailer truck only tolling program and have been prepared to do so for three years. We are confident that we will prevail. The tractor trailer tolling program is meeting or exceeding our performance and revenue expectations. It will benefit the users of Rhode Island's bridges and ensure they are repaired and paid for in a fair and equitable manner.”