Rhode Island Backs Off Plans To Put Tolls Near Connecticut State Line

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP and WTIC-AM) _ Rhode Island transportation officials say they are shelving plans to try and get tolls approved on Interstate 95 through the state.

Michael Lewis, the state’s transportation director, tells the Providence Journal the federal government won’t support Rhode Island’s toll plan.

The state would need an exemption from a federal rule that doesn’t allow tolls on existing highways that were built with taxpayer money.

The state has been looking at tolls as a potential funding source for highway projects such as the replacement of the Providence Viaduct.

A state panel had estimated that tolls of $3 for passenger cars and $6 for trucks collected near the Connecticut state line could raise $39 million per year in 2014.

North Stonington First Selectman Nick Mullane says the toll debate will probably continue, because government officials in both states are looking for sources of money.

“It’s just another form of tax,” Mullane said.  “I don’t consider it a good methodology to collect taxes.  It is going to be disruptive to the normal commuters.  It is going to cost them added money.”

Connecticut State Senator John Kissel said Tuesday the idea was “ill advised.”

The Republican lawmaker says tolls near the state line would hurt interstate commerce and tourism and potentially ignite a “toll war” between New England states. Kissel has written to Congress to oppose the idea.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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