Below is a statement that StopTollsRI.com (for which I am spokesperson) placed on its Facebook page last night. The R.I. Trucking Association and the American Trucking Association have announced that they would wait until all 30+ toll gantries were installed before they would challenge the legality of truck tolls in court. This alarming development first came to light Thursday night in testimony before House Finance. See Mike Collins’ testimony starting at approximately minute 1:52:40.
Tolls have taken a dangerous turn for Rhode Island residents and taxpayers. It is now imperative that state legislators and General Assembly leadership step in for the good of the state and end the truck toll program.
The truckers announced today that they will not file their lawsuit challenging the legality of Rhode Island’s truck-only toll law until after all gantries have been built. When (not if) the courts rule in favor of the truckers that truck only tolls are illegal, all Rhode Islanders will be on the hook, minimally, for the cost ($40M?) of gantries. This has placed the state in an obviously precarious and untenable position. It’s time for legislators and leadership to step in (there is still time), steer the state safely off the reckless path that we have started down and repeal truck tolls.
Toll money would be slated to go to RIDOT. Legislators should feel secure that repealing tolls will not leave RIDOT without funds; just the opposite. RIDOT has a very generous annual budget (excluding tolls) that exceeds $550M/year. All Rhode Islanders and many state departments have had to tighten their belt. It’s time for RIDOT to do the same and start living within their quite generous budget in the absence of an uncontrollable, dangerous and destructive new revenue stream – tolls.