As one of its final acts in the recently concluded session, the General Assembly delayed implementation of the tolls on the Sakonnet River bridge until some point in 2014, while establishing a commission to study alternative ways to fund bridge maintenance.
The delay followed months of opposition voiced by East Bay residents, even as the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority spent a significant amount of money to install the electronic toll readers on the bridge.
RITBA had made the argument that upkeep of the Jamestown, Mt. Hope and Newport bridges had fallen behind for lack of enough revenue, and expected that without the tolls, the Sakonnet River bridge would find itself in the same predicament.
Opponents felt that the toll, even if assessed only once per day for as many round trips across the bridge as a vehicle made, would put a damper on businesses on Aquidneck Island as well as its East Bay neighbors while hurting the pocketbooks of its residents.
Do you think that tolls are a good way to fund bridge maintenance?