Updated August 27 at 7:27pm

Charging those who use roads for maintenance way to go

‘A true user fee might be where we are going.’

Before Michael Lewis was hired to run Rhode Island’s transportation system, he spent two decades working on Boston’s impressive and notorious Big Dig project. Keeping the Ocean State’s highways open and buses running isn’t as glamorous as the central-artery tunnel, but in its own way is just as challenging. With costs rising to maintain public transportation, a number of bridge projects due and gas-tax revenue flat, Lewis has embarked on the unpleasant job of seeking toll increases. If that weren’t enough, the state’s long-term vision and investment in extending commuter-rail service is again coming up against unpleasant fiscal realities.

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



Enter your email to receive Providence Business News' e-newsletters
and breaking news alerts.  

NEWSMAKERS

Charging those who use roads for maintenance way to go

‘A true user fee might be where we are going.’

Posted:

Before Michael Lewis was hired to run Rhode Island’s transportation system, he spent two decades working on Boston’s impressive and notorious Big Dig project. Keeping the Ocean State’s highways open and buses running isn’t as glamorous as the central-artery tunnel, but in its own way is just as challenging. With costs rising to maintain public transportation, a number of bridge projects due and gas-tax revenue flat, Lewis has embarked on the unpleasant job of seeking toll increases. If that weren’t enough, the state’s long-term vision and investment in extending commuter-rail service is again coming up against unpleasant fiscal realities.

PBN: The Interstate 95 Providence Viaduct Bridge has been in bad shape for some time. Who is going to pay to fix it and when should drivers expect construction to begin?

LEWIS: Over the last decade DOT has invested in major infrastructure improvements, including the I-Way in downtown Providence. … The next in line is the Providence Viaduct. Because of its structural condition, it needs to be replaced. That was recognized before I came here. We have developed the design and are ready to go out to bid later this year for the first stage.

Because of limited funds, we rely on federal funds and this project will take up most of what future federal funds we have. We need to do the project but because it is so large it limits what we can do throughout the state.

It is the primary reason we proposed tolling on I-95; that would be the primary source of revenue and ensure we never have another Pawtucket River bridge and viaduct problem again. Absent that, we have to find other ways to pay for the viaduct.

PBN: When you look out 20 years from now, how will Rhode Island be paying for its transportation infrastructure?

26~50, 031912 NEWSMAKERS, transportation, government, public policy, the big picture, newsmaker, Michael Lewis, R.I. Department of Transportation , transportation, government, public policy, the big picture, 26~50, issue031912export.pbn
Next Page

Comments

1 comment on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
admin@natellisystems.com

Well, let's see "... a true user fee might be where we are going. ... with the advance in electronic-information systems, the technology is there for capturing data in a very efficient way. ..." No, Mr. Lewis, Big Brother doesn't get to watch me. We are a free nation, and this has got to be the biggest proposed abuse of technology I've heard of recently. If the state wants to capture the mileage reading off my vehicle when it's purchased, sold and/or inspected, that's fine. But you don't get to put an electronic tail on me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Report this
Latest News