The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, of which NATSO is a founding member, sharply criticized the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) on June 5 for moving forward with truck-only tolling in the coming days, arguing that it is bad public policy that will reroute prosperity around the state.
RIDOT said that it would open the first two of 14 truck-only tolling gantries on Interstate 95 on June 11. The first two gantries are located between exits 2 and 5 and will cost truck drivers a total of $6.75. The additional 12 truck-only tolling gantries are expected to go up shortly thereafter.
“Tolls on existing interstates are an underhanded tax that will negatively impact Rhode Island’s economy, regardless of whether these toll taxes are levied only on trucks or all vehicles,” ATFI said in a statement issued to media. “Due to increased transportation costs, which will affect companies’ decisions to operate and expand in the state, RhodeWorks’ ‘toll taxes’ will hurt area businesses and lead to job losses in the process. These tolls, and those planned for the future, will eventually reroute prosperity around Rhode Island entirely.”
NATSO and the Rhode Island Trucking Association have voiced strong opposition to the tolls since the state approved its RhodeWorks plans. RhodeWorks authorized RIDOT to toll commercial vehicles within the state. Although revenue is supposed to go toward funding the repair and replacement of bridges throughout the state, however, there are no legal requirements that the money raised be used in this manner.
Truck-only tolls will significantly increase the costs of shipped goods and divert trucks off of the interstate onto local roads. The tolls will have serious negative effects for local businesses, which will have to pay more for the goods that they sell, as well as Rhode Island towns and communities that rely on these businesses' tax revenue to grow and thrive.
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