Debate Over Rhode Island Toll Plan Rolls On
Truckers and trucking groups in Rhode Island continue to voice their opposition to a new tolling plan which they claim will stick them with unfair costs. Leaders of the Rhode Island Trucking Association were not holding back this week, urging voters to dismiss from office any legislator that supported the plan.
The plan, which has been in the works for quite some time, will levy tolls on truck drivers in Rhode Island. “Rhodeworks,” as it is called, has drawn the ire of drivers due to one simple problem. While drivers are used to paying tolls to fund the upkeep of infrastructure like highways and bridges, the toll revenue collected in Rhode Island’s new plan is not legally mandated to go toward these ends.
RITA President Chris Maxwell spoke to a group of supporters Tuesday morning at the TravelCenters of America truck stop. The organization has noted the potential negative side effects that this plan could have. The first is that it could cause truck drivers to move from highways to local roads, which could do substantial damage to this infrastructure.
Another possibility is that truckers may pull back their efforts in the state altogether. This type of change could harm local businesses, which could in turn result in less tax revenue for the state. While the RITA was outspoken about their opposition to this plan, they did propose an alternative.
Maxwell noted that increasing tax on diesel fuel in Rhode Island by 19 cents would raise the necessary funds without having to resort to additional tolling. Since this tax is based on the number of miles a trucker drives in a state (even if they fuel up beforehand), Rhode Island would receive additional revenue every three-months based on electronic records of miles driven by truckers.