RhodeWorks meets federal law

RHODEWORKS, THE RHODE ISLAND infrastructure repair program, won a regional award from the 2017 Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
RHODEWORKS, THE RHODE ISLAND infrastructure repair program, won a regional award from the 2017 Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Transportation has executed 13 memoranda of understanding with the Federal Highway Administration, signaling the federal government agrees with the state’s RhodeWorks program to implement bridge tolls on large commercial trucks, RIDOT announced Wednesday.
The tolling was authorized when the General Assembly approved the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction and Maintenance Fund Act, also known as RhodeWorks, which authorizes RIDOT to toll large commercial vehicles, or “tractor trailers,” to help fund the repair or replacement of bridges throughout the state. The act was signed into law on Feb. 11.
“For too long, our state kicked the can down the road on infrastructure, allowing our roads and bridges to crumble and fall into total disrepair. With RhodeWorks, leaders came together to put an end to the politics of procrastination and take action to keep people safe,” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said in a press release. “With the partnership and approval of the federal government, we are going to keep moving forward as quickly as we can to deliver the infrastructure Rhode Islanders deserve.”
Tolls are assessed on tractor trailers to account for the disproportionate amount of damage they cause relative to cars and other trucks. According to a Government Accountability Office report to Congress, one fully loaded tractor trailer can do the same amount of damage as 9,600 cars.
Truck tolls will be implemented at 13 locations, including both interstate highways and state roads. Toll revenue will be used to help pay to reconstruct or replace 34 bridges throughout Rhode Island, which has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridge deck area of any other state in the nation, according to federal statistics.
“The inadequacy of infrastructure funding is a problem that has plagued Rhode Island for decades,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said in the release. “I am delighted that the federal government has agreed to partner with us and participate in this program to help fund the reconstruction of our crumbling bridges.”
A 14th MOU for the Providence Viaduct will be executed once the existing environmental mitigation requirements for the project are satisfied, RIDOT said.
With federal government execution of the MOUs, RIDOT said it will begin soliciting proposals from qualified firms to design, build, operate and maintain the tolling system and expects to issue a request for proposals by late November. RIDOT’s 10-year plan anticipates revenue from truck tolls beginning in 2018.

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