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PROVIDENCE – The General Assembly has passed legislation extending until May 15 the 10-cent cap the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority must use on Sakonnet River Bridge tolls.
According to a statement, legislators approved their versions of the legislation in a 68-2 vote in the House and a 36-0 vote in the Senate. The bills extend the 10-cent cap on the bridge toll from April 1 to May 15.
The Newport Daily News reported this month that if the April 1 deadline on the 10-cent cap was not extended, the Turnpike and Bridge Authority was prepared to vote to increase the toll to 50 cents for Rhode Island E-ZPass users, with a $1-per-day limit. All other drivers would pay $3.75 under that plan.
Lawmakers introduced the legislation extending the cap in order to accommodate a full vetting process for other bills – many of which stemmed from discussions from the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for East Bay Bridges formed last year – that offer alternatives to Sakonnet River Bridge tolls. One of those options is a transportation proposal aiming to create a predictable statewide funding source for roads and bridges while nixing the Sakonnet bridge toll. Under this formula, the state would establish a new Infrastructure Trust Fund using a number of existing revenue streams to maintain all state-controlled roads and bridges. •