A lot of people don't care for tolls, but we understand they help pay for smoother roads and such. The thing about tolls is they apply to all of us who use the roads. Sadly, the governor of Rhode Island thought it would be a good idea to have a new toll that applies only to truckers. If that weren't bad enough, the toll could be as much as $4.50 at each location.
Since truckers often drive the same road repeatedly, Rhode Island is encouraging truckers to use the EZ-Pass to save money. Those who use the EZ-Pass will be limited on how much and often they are charged to once per toll location per day in each direction, up to $40 a day.
This new toll caused quite an outrage in the trucking community, who have called it a "predatory and discriminatory truck-only toll scheme." Two groups have vowed to fight this toll: The American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Rhode Island Trucking Association (RITA).
The President and the CEO of ATA said, "By pressing ahead with her ill-conceived RhodeWorks scheme, Gov. Raimondo is violating the Constitution by interfering with interstate commerce. She and her administration were warned of this repeatedly by the trucking industry and we will continue to fight these unjust tolls by any means available."
While truckers are willing to help pay their fair share -- after all, they spend most of their time on the road and would like these repairs handled -- the idea of being solely responsible for the repairs is absurd, unfair, and unconstitutional.
Truckers aside for a moment, there have been multiple studies that show that tolls make traffic issues worse. People want to avoid the tolls, so they drive around them. RITA President agrees.
"Ninety-four percent of the costs of these tolls will ultimately be borne by Rhode Island businesses – and worsening our state's congestion problems as study after study has shown that when new tolls are imposed, traffic simply diverts away from them – thus taking traffic off of the interstates and putting it on Main Street."
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates joined the fight. Spokesperson Stephanie Kane said, "Tolls on existing interstates are an underhanded tax that will negatively impact Rhode Island’s economy. Increased transportation costs will affect companies’ decisions to operate and expand in the state. RhodeWorks’ 'toll taxes' will hurt area businesses and ultimately lead to job losses. These tolls, and those planned for the future, will eventually reroute prosperity around Rhode Island regardless of whether these toll taxes are only levied on trucks or all vehicles.”
The state of Rhode Island countered with the fact that construction and maintenance is too far behind, and the roads have become dangerous, especially bridges. It is further stated that there is not enough federal and state funds to help them catch up on the much-needed repairs, so this was the solution they came up with.
Assuming people will still pay the tolls, construction in Rhode Island has already started, including adjustments to the I-95 and I-195, so keep that in mind if you're planning on being in the area!