Governor Gina Raimondo's office released a new study Thursday that it said buttresses the case for the governor's controversial truck-toll proposal. The Rhode Island Truckers Association responded by questioning the numbers in the study.
A traffic collection report prepared for the state Department of Transportation by CDM Smith found that trucks volumes in class eight and above "are, in total, 27 percent higher than the raw volumes developed by RIDOT," through "approximations" "for their initial assessment for the RhodeWorks program."
CDM Smith attributed the difference to improved technology used by the company and the use of three times as many sampling locations.
In in a seven-page summary, the company said, "CDM Smith's assessment also indicates that the truck volumes are more balanced across the locations than RIDOT's initial assessments .... It shows that after recognized planned discounts for trips made more than once per days, approximately 60 percent of truck tolls would be charged to out of state registered trucks, while about 40 percent would be [from] Rhode Island."
Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger pointed to the findings as affirmation that the governor's plan will generate enough toll revenue to pay for a $600 million bond, as part of Raimondo's $1.1 billion infrastructure plan.
Yet a day after the Truckers Association called on Raimondo to change elements of her proposal, association spokesman Bill Fischer questioned the findings from CDM Smith.
“Contrary to what the governor’s office is attempting to convey, these new traffic numbers are very troubling," Fischer said in a statement. "Are we really supposed to believe traffic increased on I-95 by 75% and RT 146 by 150% in just four short months?”
On Wednesday, Fischer said, "we raised questions about RhodeWorks' average daily truck count of 11,532 on I-195 and now today their new 48-hour traffic study says I-195’s average daily truck count is 4928. Thank god this plan didn’t pass at the end of the last legislative session."
"Trucker owners, members of the General Assembly and Rhode Island taxpayers deserve better than this," he said, "as the governor’s office is basing these numbers on a $1.1 billion decision.”
The state Senate approved Raimondo's infrastructure plan in June, but it did not get a vote in the House. The House is expected to approve a version of the proposal after it resumes action in January.