House Republicans say the state can fix aging bridges without new tolls on trucks. The GOP has called for $60 million a year to be set aside from the state budget for up to 12 years.
West Warwick Representative Patricia Morgan says using money from the budget would be cheaper than Governor Gina Raimondo’s plan to toll trucks. Morgan said that’s because the state would not need to build toll-collecting devices known as gantries, or pay millions in interest for borrowing money to make improvements.
“There’s a lot of money in costs just lost with the tolling proposal,” said Morgan. “And then we have the impact on our economy. We think that going that way just hurts Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders too much.”
Morgan said bridge improvements could be funded in part by promoting efficiency, delaying a switch to reflective license plates, and taking marketing money budgeted for Newport Grand. Governor Raimondo’s truck-toll plan is stalled for now, but lawmakers may return to consider it this fall.
In a statement, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Morgan’s plan is not viable or sustainable.