The federal government is offering official approval for Rhode Island’s plan to toll commercial trucks on state bridges. The toll has generated opposition from the trucking industry and some businesses concerned about how the new tolls might impact the economy.
State Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti says the go-ahead from the federal government is the final step needed to move forward with the project. The tolls will be installed in 13 locations, and 34 bridges so far are slated for repairs from the toll revenue.
Supporters of the tolls, including Alviti, say the state should require truckers to pay for damage they cause.
"Everywhere else, up and down the eastern seaboard, truckers are paying tolls in every other state, except for Rhode Island," said Alviti, adding that he does not believe the tolls will discourage commercial truck traffic.
"They’re going to continue to take the fastest and best route for them to take, because time is money."
Alviti says RIDOT plans to put out a request for proposals for tolling infrastructure by the end the year. The state plans to begin collecting revenue from the tolls in 2018.
The Rhode Island Trucking Association has threatened legal action to stop the tolls.