April 17, 2017 2:50 PM, EDT

Rhode Island Republican Leader Seeks to Repeal Truck-Only Toll Law

Morrow Long/Flickr

The Rhode Island General Assembly’s top Republican unveiled legislation aimed at undoing a truck-only toll law backed by the governor and opposed by state and national trucking associations.

The legislation, sponsored by House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, would repeal provisions that impose tolls on large commercial trucks under Gov. Gina Raimondo’s “RhodeWorks” law. Construction of truck-only tolling facilities are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Morgan referred to RhodeWorks as an “irresponsible” measure that “should never have passed.”

“It will add to our already high cost of living, making it more difficult for average Rhode Islanders to keep their head above water. It will undoubtedly hurt our small businesses, who are struggling to remain competitive with rivals in other states not burdened with the extra shipping costs. In other words, it will had more weight to an economy that is already dead last," she said April 11, a day before introducing the legislation. Other state legislators have questioned the truck-only tolling law’s constitutionality.

Morgan’s bill was reported to the House Finance Committee. 

American Trucking Associations and the Rhode Island Trucking Association strongly endorsed the repeal legislation.

ATA President Chris Spear emphasized that interstate tolls lead to more congestion and hinder local commerce. As an alternative to truck-only tolls, he encouraged state leaders to opt for an increase in fuel taxes to generate infrastructure revenue.

“The trucking industry will not sit idle while states attempt to turn our trucks into rolling ATMs. The onus is now on the Rhode Island Legislature to correct this ill-conceived plan. ATA will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these proposed tolls on overpasses, including litigation,” Spear said.

“Make no mistake about it: RhodeWorks won’t work for Rhode Island. It will increase the cost of doing business in our state, divert commerce away from it and actually widen our budget shortfalls,” RITA President Christopher Maxwell. said “This is nothing but a veiled tax for Rhode Island citizens and one that places an unnecessary premium on every item sold in the state, thus making Rhode Island less competitive economically.”