One of the more interesting ideas in Governor Chafee’s first budget was RIDOT’s proposal to add tolls to I-95 – though it wasn’t necessarily a surprise, considering Rhode Island’s long-running struggle to find enough money to pay for transportation costs.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was less than enthusiastic about the idea when we interviewed him last spring. But RIDOT’s Mike Lewis wasn’t dissuaded, saying Rhode Island might be able to get one of a small number of exemptions from the rules that don’t allow states to toll existing federally funded roads.
Now tolls on I-95 are one step closer to becoming a reality in Rhode Island, Tim White and I report in a new WPRI.com story:
The Chafee administration has asked for permission to start charging drivers a toll on Interstate 95 near the Connecticut border, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
The R.I. Department of Transportation filed an application in June asking the federal government to approve the installation of tollbooths between Exits 1 and 2 on both sides of I-95 in Hopkinton. No tolls are proposed at the Massachusetts border.
“The proposed location is considered the most feasible location to prevent toll avoidance and to gain public acceptance,” RIDOT said in the application, which Target 12 obtained this week. The documents don’t say how much the toll would be.
RIDOT said money is needed to pay for two large projects – replacing the decaying Providence Viaduct bridge that carries I-95 next to Providence Place mall and rebuilding the I-95/Route 4 interchange near Quonset Business Park – as well as ongoing maintenance projects along the 67 miles of I-95 and I-295 in Rhode Island.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed all signed a letter on June 15 supporting the proposal to put on toll plazas the state’s main roadway.
Click here for the full article, which has much more, including Governor Chafee’s take and details on the state’s case for allowing tolls. The map at right is part of in the application.
(map: R.I. Department of Transportation)
Nesi’s Nightcap will return on Thursday.