Sakonnet Bridge Tolls: Protest Rally Friday

Thanks to the General Assembly, the new Sakonnet River Bridge gets a toll booth next June. The cost one way will be $4; $.83 for residents with an EZ pass.
It seems to me pretty unfair to suddenly drop tolls on everyone in an area where no tolls had previously been. Tolls are one of many expense factors that people consider when choosing – or not – to move into a particular town. I was, therefore, pleased to learn that a protest and petitions are being arranged by Jeanne Smith of Tiverton.
The protest will take place tomorrow, Friday, August 10 from 3:00 – 6:00 pm at Clements Market, 2575 East Main Road, Portsmouth. (A second protest will take place on August 14 at Portsmouth City Hall; details to follow.)
It’s interesting that members of the party that controls the General Assembly are looking as much to “mitigate” the tolls as to lift them.
Jeanne Smith is not of this submissive mindset. When I contacted her to obtain details of the rally, she sent the following thoughts, slightly edited for clarity and shared here with permission.

When I heard that they passed the toll during the last [General Assembly] session, and rammed it through right at the end, that got to me.
I heard it “was a done deal” and that our reps had done what they could do, and there are more of them and we were outnumbered. That got to me.
When I thought about how people on Aquidneck Island would be paying a disproportionate share towards the Turnpike Authority maintenance program, that also gets to me.
When I think of how small this bridge is compared to many of the other hundreds in the state, that also gets to me.
When I read that the Turnpike authority comment, I understand their pain, but after all they do live on an island …
So, not having a defeatist attitude, I made out a petition and figured I would bring them to a few places and see the reaction.
Well, the reaction was great….
I believe that people still have a voice.
So I started speaking to many, many people and they wanted to help.
It just keeps getting bigger every day. There are petitions throughout the island, Tiverton, and Little Compton.
The Small Business Assoc. in Portsmouth and a number of other groups are on board as well.
There is a rally at Clements this coming Friday from 3-6, at the same time that Buddy Cianci is on air. Channel 10 should be present there as well.
Then there will be a rally at the Portsmouth Town hall meeting on August 14th. I want our Governor, and our Senator who voted for these tolls to be on notice.

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10 years ago

Rallies are great but even better when they also offer a solution. Will they be offering a solution to the problem that supposedly brought on the toll? Even if that solution is to work to eliminate everyone the Assembly that voted in favor of this?

10 years ago

If I remember correctly working with the RI Department of Administration, in 2003 Governor Donald L. Carcieri (R) relocated most all the departments from the top floor of the building to temporary spaces so he could setup 60 State of RI volunteers as the “Fiscal Fitness Team” to study ways for RI government to save operating expenses (they were being paid for their regular jobs while doing brain storming).
EZ Pass was one of the brain storming suggestions ideas because most of NY, CT, NJ and MA already had EZ Pass. It was an easy way to capture extra funds from those people traveling to CT casinos or Cape Cod driving through Aquidneck Island to bypass traffic jams on I-95 and I-195 in the Providence area.
This is why there was a push to put EZ Pass tolls on I-95 at the MA and CT boarders and back on the already paid for Mount Hope Bridge and now the new Sakonnet River Bridge.
This is really not about collecting enough funds for bridge maintenance as it is more about creating a funding stream.
Why do you think for RI drivers it is $0.83 with EZ Pass (which you must set up a pre-paid monthly account which you get no interest income from)) and $4 for out of state vehicles?
The “Don” got you with Deepwater Wind and soon to be highest electric rates in the nation and now tolls on all Aquidneck Island bridges for your travels.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

There is a mindset that anything the goernment does is “free”. The costs of maintaining a bridge are enormous. The only way to keep it “free” is to levy a tax on people who do not use it. Sort of the way that the taxpayers in Minnesota paid for the now defunct Providence-Newport ferry. While federal money subsidized it, ridership was high. Once it had to support itself, it folded.
I can’t get too unpset.

10 years ago

The only people who care enough about the toll are people who use the bridge frequently. In other words, the minority. The toll will stand.
My business was assessed with a 10% tax on sales by the federal government to begin gathering funds to impliment Obamacare. Ten percent of the population uses or has or will use what I offer. Nintey percent didn’t care even a little bit, it didn’t effect them.
The tax stands.

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