Rhode Island Is Poised to Toll Trucks to Finance Road Repairs

  • Measure needs Senate vote before heading to governor
  • Passenger vechicles won't pay tolls, capped at $20 daily

The Rhode Island Senate is set to vote on a bill that would impose the state’s first tolls on large commercial trucks to finance roadwork.

The measure, which was approved by the state’s House of Representatives in a 52 to 21 vote Wednesday, would apply only to trucks with a single trailer and to those with three or more axles. Cars would be exempt.

Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, has pushed it as a way to shore up the state’s roads, which include 43 miles (69 kilometers) of Interstate 95, the eastern seaboard’s main route. The Senate’s passage Thursday would sent the measure to the governor for her signature.

“This responsible legislation addresses our infrastructure, which is the most significant factor impacting the business community and the future of economic development in our state,” House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat, said in a statement.

About 23 percent of the state’s bridges that are longer than 20 feet in length are structurally deficient, according to the bill. The tolls would average $3 each and be capped at $20 a day for the same truck crossing the state. Tractor trailers cause 70 percent of the damage to the state’s roads while accounting for less than 20 percent of revenue to fund transportation, the bill says.

Opposing the levies is the Rhode Island Trucking Association, which says it’s unfair to target big rigs and it won’t generate the revenue expected as traffic diverts around the state.

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