Truck-only tolls are set to begin in Rhode Island in less than 60 days following the okay from the Federal Highway Administration.
The bill allowing the state to charge these truck-only tolls was passed back in 2016, as part of the RhodeWorks infrastructure project. Since its passing, it has faced heavy opposition from trucking groups, who claim the truck-specific tolls are unconstitutional. Still, the bill recently gained approval from the Federal Highway Administration, giving the state permission to move forward with the truck-only tolls.
The two new toll booths will be placed along Interstate 95 at Mechanic Street in Richmond, Rhode Island, and at the Tefft Hill Trail Bridge in Exeter, Rhode Island, and are expected to be up in running within 60 days. These are only the first two booths of a planned 14 booths that, once installed, are expected to bring a total of $45 million in tolls to Rhode Island each year.
“It is a fair system addressing a user fee for the large trucks who do the most damage to our roads and bridges, and will provide a dedicated and reliable revenue stream to help maintain our transportation system,” said RIDOT director Peter Alviti in a press release.
Despite RIDOT’s optimistic view of the truck-only tolls, the Rhode Island Trucking Association says that RIDOT and the FHWA have failed to consider some of the ramifications of collecting tolls specific to truck drivers.
“Despite the DOT Director’s statement that ‘FHA has cleared the way’ for truck tolling, he failed to state the reality,” said Rhode Island Trucking Association President Christopher Maxell in a press release.
“Truck‐only tolling violates specific provisions of the U.S. Constitution… the [state] is [now] facing a lengthy and very expensive legal battle that will be funded by taxpayer dollars. This battle is far from over.”