The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to proceed with construction of another ten tolling gantries in the state. The FHWA had reviewed the environmental assessment submitted by RIDOT and issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) which clears the path for construction, the Rhode Island DOT said.
In its letter, the FHWA said, “This Finding of No Significant Impact is based on the attached Environmental Assessment, which has been independently evaluated by the FHWA and determined to adequately and accurately discuss the need, environmental issues, and impacts of the proposed project.”
The contractor has been issued the notice to proceed for construction of the next ten locations. The first location is expected to be completed and activated by May 2019 with the remaining locations activated over the following year.
The RIDOT estimates that gantries will go up in quick succession once construction starts with a gantry being built every one to two months. The ten gantries should be in place by May 2020, according to the RIDOT’s Dec. 20 announcement.
The tolling program to date has functioned as expected. Since tolling began at locations 1 and 2, the RIDOT said on Dec. 20, the tolling program had collected $3,706,836. There has been no diversion from the routes as a result of tolling at locations 1 and 2, the agency said. The program had tolled 1,120,190 verified vehicles, according to the Dec. 20 statement.
On July 10, 2018, the American Trucking Associations, along with three motor carriers representing the industry, asked a federal court to rule Rhode Island’s RhodeWorks truck-only toll scheme unconstitutional, arguing it discriminates against interstate trucking companies and impedes the flow of interstate commerce.
“Since RhodeWorks was first proposed, the trucking industry has been strong and united in opposition to this extortionate plan. We’ve warned politicians in Rhode Island that these truck-only tolls were unconstitutional and should be rolled back,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.
In its suit, ATA, along with Cumberland Farms Inc., M&M Transport Services Inc. and New England Motor Freight, argues that the RhodeWorks plan violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state trucking companies, and by designing the tolls in a way that does not fairly approximate motorists’ use of the roads.