State’s plan to install first 2 truck tolls gets federal OK
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island plans to begin installing new truck tolls early next year, now that the Federal Highway Administration has given its approval.
The Federal Highway Administration concurred this week with the state’s assessment that installing tolls on Interstate 95 in Richmond and Exeter will not cause any significant impact to the environment, the Providence Journal reported . The approval means the state can install the first two of 14 planned truck tolls.
The state approved a 10-year roads plan last year and new truck tolls to pay for it.
The tolls have been vigorously opposed by the trucking industry. The Rhode Island Trucking Association says tolls will lead to higher prices for consumer goods and it is threatening a lawsuit.
Association President Christopher Maxwell said Thursday that the state is facing “a lengthy and very expensive legal battle that will be funded by taxpayer dollars.”
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says big-rig trucks cause the most damage to roads and bridges and the infrastructure needs to be fixed.
Work on the gantries is expected to being in January. The gantries will be tested in early February so tolls can be collected by the end of the month, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The state is projecting $45 million in annual toll revenue once all 14 tolls are operational. The plan was to start collecting at the first two tolls by the end of this year, but federal permitting took longer than expected.