Why Are We Transferring Ownership of Two (Two More?) State Bridges to a Quango?

This Bristol-Warren Patch article is comprised mainly of a press release from the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority announcing that tolls (amount undetermined) will soon come to the Sakonnet River Bridge and that there would be no change in the amount of the tolls charged to cross the Newport bridge. But it also contained a separate, equally disturbing announcement by the RITBA.

Ownership of the Sakonnet Bridge will be transferred from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to RITBA, who will manage the tolling, maintenance and operations.
The Jamestown Bridge will also become RITBA’s property and will remain toll-free.

Is the Newport bridge currently owned by the RITBA? If so, why? Aren’t these state assets? Presumably, the power of the Prince, i.e., the state of Rhode Island, was exercised at some point to seize (fine, take by eminent domain) private land to construct the bridges. At that point, the bridges became the property of the state, meaning all of us: residents and taxpayers of Rhode Island.
It’s one thing to contract out the upkeep and management of the bridges, though at some point, I would ask for a review to be certain that the state shouldn’t ask for profit-sharing from the tolls. But do we need to go so far as to actually give away our assets – in this case, the bridges and the state land that they sit on?

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10 years ago

The Bridge was opened in July 1969, over 40 years ago….
Over the years, I have often read comments alluding to the bonding for the Bridge and how well “connected” Rhode Islanders are making a lot of $$$ on the Bridge.
Have the Bonds been refinanced several times? If true, who handled the transactions? What is the current Interest Rate being paid, terms etc?
AR would do us all a great favor by delving into the Bonding for the Newport Bridge and laying it all out in the light of day…. 40 Years seems like an awful long time to pay off the Bridge.
New topic: Having driven over it for many years, I am of the opinion that the RIBTP has not really done all that great of a job maintaining the road surface. Way too many “spot” fixes which are not even with the rest of the roadway causing a rather rough ride. I needed to vent on that topic as I often travel to the DC area and it seems the only other Bridge in worse shape is the GW….

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