Skipping the Tolls: Rhode Island Trucking Association Offers State a “Plan B”
In response to a controversial plan to introduce tolls for trucks, the Rhode Island Trucking Association didn't get frustrated by the idea; instead, the group offered up a plan of its own that avoids relying on tolls entirely.
Rhode Island’s Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, thinks she has the perfect way to pay for the state’s bridge repairs. The industry that would have to pick up the bill, however, is not so sure.
As a result, the Rhode Island Trucking Association (RITA) is pushing an alternative to the governor’s proposal to have trucks-and only trucks-pay tolls, and it would boost the state’s infrastructure funding in the process. The group’s alternative plan, released last week, came with a critical analysis of a plan recommended by the state’s RhodeWorks infrastructure-improvement campaign, which the association noted would require the construction of new toll facilities.
“We have always stated we want to be part of the solution, but tolls are not the answer,” RITA President Christopher Maxwell said in a news release [DOC].
The trade group is suggesting a variety of options that would effectively increase taxes on truckers specifically—including a recommendation to increase diesel taxes by 18 cents per gallon and truck registration fees by $500 per year—while not creating additional costs for the state.
Maxwell noted in his critique that the toll plan was also problematic because it assumed a certain level of truck traffic to be effective—something that the group is concerned could lead to increased tolls in the future. In contrast, he assessed the association’s plan as a “predictable revenue stream.”
“There are certain traffic assumptions contained in the RhodeWorks proposal that we believe are not accurate and will greatly affect projected revenue streams. The governor has already admitted that if revenue projections do not pan out her only recourse would be to increase the tolls on the trucking industry,” Maxwell continued. “Our plan also guarantees cars will never be tolled by future administrations because the infrastructure will never be constructed.”
RITA isn’t alone in attacking the toll plan. The state’s Republican party has also come out against the plan, noting it would fail to fully fund necessary infrastructure improvements, despite relying on borrowed money.
“You should look at this bridge. We don’t know for sure that this bridge is going to be fixed,” Republican state Rep. Patricia Morgan said at a press conference held in front of a severely damaged bridge, according to the Providence Journal. “After all of this construction is done, after all of this money is borrowed and tolls put in place, only 70 percent of the bridges are going to be repaired.”