Rhode Island's Gov. Raimondo Reveals Proposed Truck Toll Locations
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A toll-financed Rhode Island bridge repair program moved closer to reality Jan. 5 as Gov. Gina Raimondo relented to General Assembly leaders' demands to disclose the locations for proposed toll gantries, releasing them minutes after the House and Senate convened their first sessions of 2016.
The plan includes 14 preliminary locations where large commercial trucks would be tolled to fund bridge repairs, down from 17 unidentified locations the Rhode Island Department of Transportation had proposed in June, when the Senate passed tolling legislation but House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello called for more information before voting.
With the release of the gantry locations, Mattiello told reporters Jan. 5 that a reworked version of Raimondo's tolling proposal will emerge from House and Senate negotiations with the governor's team "within a week or two."
"I want it out yesterday," he quipped. "It's not ready ... It's a numbers game right now, getting it as lean as we possibly can, while still being able to do the scope of work."
"Give us at least two weeks," he said.
Raimondo had initially wanted to release the locations only after tolling legislation was passed, but she faced pressure to divulge the locations, first from tolling opponents and then from Mattiello.
Although providing the toll locations had not been a condition of her support for truck tolls this summer, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed said Jan. 5 that telling Rhode Islanders where the tolls would be located was "critical to moving the legislation forward."
"I'm hopeful that the speaker will make this a priority in the upcoming month, and the providing of this information is critical to ensuring that it is a priority in this General Assembly," Paiva Weed said after the Senate session.
The proposed gantry locations were released despite the tolling bill's final parameters still being in flux and major pieces of the bridge repair plan under negotiation, including its overall size, whether it will include borrowing and the form of incentives to compensate local trucking companies.
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|By Patrick Anderson|
The Providence Journal
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