Darlington steps down as RITBA board chairman

David A. Darlington, the chairman of the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority who has overseen the implementation of E-ZPass toll collections, the Pell Bridge improvement project and debate over the Sakonnet River Bridge toll, announced Thursday that he will step down from the board of directors effective immediately. More

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Darlington steps down as RITBA board chairman

PBN FILE PHOTO/STEPHANIE ALVAREZ EWENS
DAVID A. DARLINGTON, chairman of the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority, said Thursday that he will step down after 13 years on the board, citing heart-health issues.
Posted 5/2/14

JAMESTOWN – David A. Darlington, the chairman of the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority who has overseen the implementation of E-ZPass toll collections, the Pell Bridge improvement project and debate over the Sakonnet River Bridge toll, announced Thursday that he will step down from the board of directors effective immediately.

“It has not been a secret that I have had recent heart-health issues,” said Darlington in a release announcing his departure. “It’s time for me to take a break from the 20 years of public service given to the state of Rhode Island and give more attention to my health.”

Named to the board of directors in 2001, Darlington served on the authority under three Rhode Island governors. His most recent four-year term expired on April 1. The board is expected to elect a new chairman at its next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, May 7.

“On behalf of the state of the Rhode Island, I thank David for his many years of public service,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee in a statement Thursday. “He has served Rhode Island with dedication and a strong commitment, and ensured many accomplishments over two decades. His proven leadership skills have brought innovation to the authority. I wish him all the best and further success.”

Darlington said he hoped to see a median barrier added to the Newport Pell Bridge, as well as “resolution and consensus” about future revenue sources for the RITBA.

In March, the R.I. General Assembly passed legislation extending the previously implemented 10-cent cap on the Sakonnet River Bridge toll from April 1 to May 15. The extension was made to accommodate a full vetting process for other bills introduced that offer alternatives to the toll, including a proposal to create a predictable statewide funding source for roads and bridges under a new Infrastructure Trust Fund.

Sen. Louis P. DiPalma, D-Middletown, and Rep, John G. Edwards, D-Tiverton – two of the lawmakers on the East Bay Bridge Commission that was formed last year – have previously said they staunchly oppose the bridge tolls.

Without a new transportation-funding law, or an additional extension of the 10 cent cap, Sakonnet tolls will return on May 15 to the rate the Turnpike and Bridge Authority approved last year: 75 cents for cars with a Rhode Island EZ-Pass, $3.75 for an out-of-state EZ-Pass and $5.50 with no EZ-Pass.

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