Tolls and Taxation No Cure for Bad Rhode Island Bridges

Mount Hope Bridge. Photo by Doug Kerr.

Editor’s Note: This piece was also authored by Robert Paquin III, state government relations manager for The Heartland Institute.

In a state suffering from economic woes across the board, a recent proposal by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) to install and implement a toll system for commercial trucks in order to pay for bridge repairs has passed in the Senate and is being held up in the House, surrounded by controversy.

The proposal, called RhodeWorks, if passed in its current form, would place a toll on both interstate and intrastate commercial vehicles. According to the Providence Journal, this toll would be added to as many as 22 bridges throughout the state, with a median cost of $6 per toll. Some estimates say it would cost many travelers an average of $50 to pass through the state.

Many local businesses in Rhode Island have been vocal in their opposition to this bill despite promises of tax credits, testifying before both chambers and making public appeals for a lifeline. Some local businesses threatened to move their business out of the state to avoid the financial burden.

R.I. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) says Raimondo’s $600 million transportation proposal will place too great of a burden on local businesses that are already stretched thin. He says he will not allow it to pass the House.

“You cannot move forward with a billion-dollar proposal without taking the concerns of your large businesses into account, and that’s what I’ve tried to do—and if that requires a little more time and it brings us into the fall, so be it,” Mattiello said, according to a report by’s Ted Nesi.


[Published in the Providence Journal]

Mount Hope Bridge. Photo by Doug Kerr.