Effective Monday, June 11th, tractor trailer trucks passing through Rhode Island will now be charged a toll when passing through two points on Route 95. The new tolls, located at Exit 2 near the Hopkinton and Richmond border and Exit 5 in Exeter, cost $3.25 and $3.50 respectively. Rhode Islanders may see this as a good way to create funds for fixing the oft-complained about roads, bridges, and highways in the state, especially since Rhode Island has the worst bridges of any state in the nation. But many truck drivers don’t agree and are preparing for a legal battle. Their argument? Truckers claim that tolling only tractor-trailer trucks is illegal.
Purpose of the New Rhode Island Truck Toll
The new tractor-trailer tolls are part of the Rhodeworks legislation that became law in February 2016 as a way to rebuild Rhode Island’s infrastructure. The purpose of the truck tolls in particular is to collect revenue to rebuild ailing bridges, followed by other transportation projects. Rhode Island ranks 50, last in the nation, in overall condition of its bridges. It is said that 22% of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. Rhode Island is counting on millions in revenue from the toll- an estimated 7.2 million a year, as estimated by state officials. Within the next year or two, 11 or 12 more toll locations are projected to go up around Rhode Island. Governor Gina Raimondo says the additional revenue, and subsequent investment in infrastructure, will be a positive for the state leading to safer roads as well as employing thousands of construction workers. The original toll project was slated to unfold in March. However, it was delayed to continue further testing of the electronic tolling systems. These steel tower systems use sensors to charge the tractor-trailers, which often have an EZ-Pass. The tolls do not require the trucks to stop or otherwise slow down.
Is it Legal to Toll Only Tractor Trailer Trucks?
Truckers say no. However, Rhode Island legislation says that tractors or truck tractors as defined in 23 C.F.R. 658.5, pulling a trailer or trailers, are able to be tolled, as shown in Rhode Island General Law § 42-13.1-4. Authority to collect tolls on large commercial trucks only. All other vehicles will not be tolled. Rhode Island is one of the only states in the northeast that does not charge fees to large commercial trucks. Rhode Island’s reasoning behind tolling only tractor-trailer trucks is that these are the vehicles that cause the most damage to Rhode Island’s infrastructure. The RIDOT performed various truck damage studies to show that these are the vehicles that are causing most of the damage to roadways that need to be repaired. The repairs are also more costly as the roadways need to be able to bear the weight of heavy tractor trailers. The Rhode Island Trucking Association and the American Trucking Association claim that tolling only trucks is illegal. In addition, the president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association claims that adding the new toll is going to further hurt the economy by increasing the cost of goods and living.
Poor Road Quality Can Cause Accidents & Serious Injury
The poor quality of roads, bridges, and highways across Rhode Island is often joked about – but is serious business. Poor road quality can lead to serious car accidents and property damage caused by potholes and general lack of maintenance. As personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law, we realize that poor road quality can be a factor in causing auto accidents. As RI auto accident attorneys, we have seen accidents caused by one car veering to avoid a pothole, or other road damage, resulting in hitting another vehicle. Truck accidents can also be very serious and result in severe injuries and fatalities due to the sheer size and weight of tractor trailers. Damages and personal injury often ensue after an auto accident and those affected should not be left to suffer on their own with hospital expenses, medical bills, and auto repair costs. Injuries from a car accident can also result in further costly surgeries down the road. It is important to have an experienced injury lawyer on your side. If you have been hurt in a Rhode Island auto accident or Massachusetts car crash, contact the injury lawyers at Tapalian Law. We have over 15 years of experience helping clients recover damages for their losses. For a free consultation on your injury case, contact injury attorney David Tapalian at 401-552-5000 or with our online form.