Rhode Island trucking toll proposal prompts response from trucking industry
By Dan Boaz
Another new highway funding story this week that impacts the trucking and expedited freight sector sees an ambitious new revenue scheme in Rhode Island backed by Governor Gina Raimondo that will see all large commercial vehicles pay a hefty toll to pass through the state.
By way of response, the Rhode Island Trucking Association have said that the bill would have a severely negative impact on the state's economy. The proposal is called RhodeWorks and would see an increase in infrastructure investment revenue from $3.7 billion to $4.8 billion through 2024 for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
The ambitious scheme expects to create about 12,000 jobs, fix over 150 structurally deficient bridges in addition to repairing 500 bridges so they do not later become classified as structurally deficient. The Governor states that tackling these objectives now will save money in the long-term.
The strategy involves bridge funding via a proposed a $700 million revenue bond, with $400 million earmarked for bridge repairs on Routes 6 and 10 and the remainder to be used elsewhere throughout the state. To pay off the funding, RhodeWorks would assess a fee on large commercial vehicles, primarily along bridges on six main routes. These revenues would be collected electronically without tollbooths, and would potentially raise $100 million per year. No other vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, SUVs, pick-up trucks or small commercial vehicles, will be assessed the fee.
But Bill Fischer, the spokesperson for the Rhode Island Trucking Association, said it will be bad for small businesses in the Ocean State.
“All documentation we've seen about the plan is very clear they want to tax class six, three axle vehicles and up. That's a common home heating delivery vehicle, a furniture store delivery vehicle, a larger tow truck and we're very concerned on the impact that this is going to have. Those tolling charges are going to be passed onto the consumer.”
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