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For decades Rhode Island has had the worst roads and bridges in the nation. That is changing due to the passage of a sweeping piece of legislation known as RhodeWorks which became law in 2016.
RhodeWorks provides for the planning, execution, management and funding to bring the state’s infrastructure into a state of good repair. Over a ten-year period, approximately $4.7 billion dollars will be pumped into the state’s economy to fix its roads and bridges and create 6,000 jobs. One tenth of this income will come from commercial truck-only tolling that creates a stable source of funds to augment the state and federal funds that make up the bulk of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s (RIDOT) budget.
Tolls will be collected along six major highway corridors at twelve locations. Each location is associated with a bridge or bridge group and the tolling revenues will be used to repair or replace the bridge location with which it is associated. RIDOT will repair or replace 35 bridges with this revenue.
Toll rates will be limited to once per toll facility, per day in each direction. Toll rates have not been set yet but will be limited along the I-95 corridor at $20 for a border-to-border trip from Connecticut to Massachusetts. There also is a daily maximum toll of $40 per large commercial truck regardless of the number of toll gantries passed. The $20 and $40 caps require the use of a radio frequency identification transponder (such as E-ZPass). The RhodeWorks legislation prohibits tolls from being extended to cars or smaller trucks.
RIDOT has contracted with Kapsch TrafficCom to design, build, operate, and maintain the electronic tolling system for ten years. The proposed first tolling gantries will be in the southwestern part of Rhode Island along I-95.
RIDOT has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that describes the potential impacts and benefits of the tolling program and construction of the toll gantries. A public comment period is now underway. FHWA will subsequently issue its determination.
RIDOT selected Kapsch TrafficCom, an Austrian company, to design, build, operate and maintain the system for 10 years. RIDOT will set the toll rates in accordance with the mandates of the legislation.