Steve Arthurs, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association (RIFDA) has informed his members that the first toll gantries will be going up in the state this week. This is the first tolling system in the Ocean State for tractor-trailers.
Arthurs said once these gantries are completed, “it is widely believed they will be challenged in the courts by the trucking industry.”
The first two toll gantries were under construction Monday in Hopkinton and Exeter on I-95. A number of lanes will be closed during the process, and there will be a brief overnight highway closure.
Fourteen toll locations are planned as part of the Rhode Works law that passed in 2016. The 10-year road-and-bridge repair plan calls for collecting truck tolls to pay for the costs of rebuilding and rehabilitating the state’s crumbling infrastructure.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) have argued that large tractor-trailer trucks do the most damage to Rhode Island roads and should contribute to fixing them. The trucking industry has fought back, consistently threatening to bring the state to court as soon as the first toll is collected.
“Everything up to this point has been conjecture and spin by RIDOT and Gov. Raimondo,” said Chris Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association. “They now face their biggest challenge in a court of law, and we’re ready to roll.”
“We have been prepared for three years for any challenges to this,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said. “We expect that we will succeed in defending any challenge.”
Alviti says the toll gantries that will go up next week will go through a month of testing before the automated system begins charging trucks that drive under them, either through an EZ Pass transponder or by billing the truck driver by license plate.
The price for Toll 1 in Hopkinton and Toll 2 in Exeter will be $3.25 and $3.50, respectively. The rest of the tolls gantries are slated to go up gradually over the next 18 months.
Next week, daytime single-lane closures are scheduled on I-95 North and South Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. at the two toll locations. The first location is one mile north of Exit 2, and the other is three miles south of Exit 5. The highway will temporarily close from approximately 1-3 a.m. Thursday and Friday when the installation of the actual gantries occurs. RIDOT says “rolling roadblocks” will be used by lowering the speed limit to 25 mph.