The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has proposed banning tractor trailers on secondary roads in order to force them into using toll roads.
According to a letter written to WPRI by the State Traffic Commission, the proposal looks to ban truckers from using the state roads that allow them to avoid several new and upcoming toll stations.
The RIDOT is requesting these restrictions just one year after a proposal for 13 new toll stations in Rhode Island was signed into law, but did not cite the new toll stations as the reason for the proposed restrictions.
The 13 new stations are meant to pay for a total of $4.7 billion worth of road repairs in the next 10 years and are only avoidable by using the types of secondary roads that RIDOT is looking to prevent trucks from using.
“We are asking the State Traffic Commission to help ensure that large commercial trucks do not use local roads and neighborhoods as throughways,” said Lisbeth Pettengill, spokesperson for RIDOT.
RIDOT would prefer “they stay on limited access interstates which are designed to accommodate them,” Pettengill added.
“This is the next phase in the war against the trucking industry,” said the president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association, Chris Maxwell.
Before reviewing RIDOT’s request, the State Traffic Commission stated that federal regulation does not allow vehicles to be banned from secondary roads if:
-They are using the secondary road to reach a specific local area.
-They need to stop for rest, fuel, or repairs.
-They are using the road to reach the “National Network” of highways connecting cities and states throughout the US.
15 routes are facing a semi truck restriction, including Route 3 in Hopkinton, Route 1A in Warwick, and Route 122 in Pawtucket.
“This [secondary road restriction] ensures safety for both people and roads…. It relieves congestion and it keeps our assets viable until they can be repaired or rehabilitated,” continued Pettengill.
But the Rhode Island Trucking Association says that the deteriorating condition of the state’s roadways are the fault of the state and that the blame should not be placed on truck drivers and their vehicles. RITA also says that the state should shoulder the financial burden of repairing the roads instead of pawning it off on truck-based tolls, and plans to file a lawsuit as soon as the new toll stations begin collecting tolls from truckers.
A PDF of the proposed road restrictions can be found here.
The State Traffic Commission is scheduled to look over the proposal today, August 17th, and announce their decision later in the day.