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Rhode Island's Unique Funding Option to Repair Roads and Bridges Approved

After an eight-hour debate, the Rhode Island House of Representatives approved controversial truck-only toll legislation that will make Rhode Island the only state to apply tolls to large trucks but not other motor vehicles.
February 13, 2016, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Marianne Campolongo

After a ''marathon session" that ended just before 11 p.m. on Feb. 10, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 52-21 to approve Gov. Gina Raimondo's truck toll bill, writes Tony Gugliotta for NBC News 10.

The House, which last year blocked a similar bill, has been the biggest hurdle for the toll plan. The tolls would help raise money for a 10-year project to repair deteriorating bridges.

"According to 2014 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data, over 50 percent of this state's bridges are considered deficient, either structurally or functionally," notes an earlier post, giving the Ocean State the dubious title of having the worst bridges in the country.

In addition to being vigorously opposed by the trucking industry (see the news video showing large trucks driving by the capitol carrying signs opposing the bill), the cameras mounted above the toll gantries created a privacy concern for many of the legislators.

It can really create a detailed reading of your comings and goings throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the month (and) throughout the year," said Hillary Davis of the ACLU.

"If the legislation wins final approval, Rhode Island would become the only state to create a truck-only tolling system, though many East Coast states have tolls that make large commercial trucks pay higher rates," adds Gugliotta. 

The bill passed the Senate on Thursday after a mere three hours of debate, by comparison, reports AP via WPRO.

Raimondo signed the bill that day, "declaring victory in a high-pitched legislative battle that has dominated state politics for the past nine months," write reporters for WRPI.

The proposed legislation, dubbed RhodeWorks, would fund a multiyear surge of bridge repairs through two mechanisms: borrowing $300 million against future federal highway funding, as well as refinancing old borrowing to yield an additional $120 million; and imposing a new toll on large commercial trucks, projected to yield $45 million a year."

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Journal

Full Story:
Published on Friday, February 12, 2016 in NBC 10 News
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