The American Trucking Associations and three motor carriers appealed a decision by the federal district court in Rhode Island to dismiss a challenge to RhodeWorks, the state’s truck-only toll scheme.
In its challenge, ATA contends that Rhode Island’s toll scheme unconstitutionally discriminates against interstate trucking companies and impedes the flow of interstate commerce. In a March 19, 2019 decision dismissing the case, the district court did not address the merits of that constitutional claim, ATA said. Instead, it held only that ATA’s challenge could not proceed in federal court, ATA said in a March 29 statement.
“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. “It is unfortunate that [Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo] and her administration did not heed those warnings. While we are disappointed the district court’s decision means further delay in seeing these tolls rolled back, our appeal of the dismissal of our case on a technicality should demonstrate to the state that this fight is by no means over, and we look forward to establishing the unconstitutionality of Rhode Island’s discriminatory tolls on the merits.”
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.
“From the outset of this debate, Rhode Island’s trucking industry and business community stepped forward as viable partners for long-overdue infrastructure investment in our state,” said Chris Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association. “Instead of considering our perspective, Rhode Island’s leaders, led by Governor Raimondo, marginalized us, dismissed us and chose the unfortunate path of designing, building and executing an unlawful and unequitable scheme of truck-only tolling. Meanwhile, Rhode Island continues to invest already scarce infrastructure resources on toll gantries knowing they are likely to have their toll scheme overturned by the courts.”