To the editor:
As another legislative session ends, the General Assembly erred in their , which will probably be erected late next summer, 2013. I voted for a floor amendment to eliminate this budget article from the budget and against the final FY13 budget which included the Sakonnet River bridge toll.
For the past 14 years as your State Senator, I have fought diligently against tolls on the Mt Hope and Sakonnet River Bridge. Unfortunately, our local East Bay Representatives and Senators were outnumbered.
In my speech on the Senate floor last night, I spoke about this unfair tax on my Tiverton constituents, who go over the bridge for work, appointments and family obligations. This toll is a barrier for all East Bay residents. Make no mistake; this is a tax on the East Bay residents. The East Bay residents pay enough taxes without a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge. This burden should be shared with all residents of RI. Thank you to all who e-mailed or called regarding your objections.
Residents will be taxed at additional $50 to $60 because they will need an E-Zpass transponder to stay in RI ($20.95 interior or $33.04 exterior) plus maintain a $25 minimum prepaid toll amount.
RIDOT has not even initiated or completed an economic impact statement on how this toll will affect businesses in RI. We are putting the cart before the horse. How will this effect tourism in Newport and East Bay businesses? What is the traffic impact through Bristol/ Warren Route 136 for those individuals avoiding the tolls?
This toll idea needs a through comprehensive economic impact study before implementation and the governor should eliminate this toll.
Walter S. Felag, Jr.
RI State Senator, District 10
Tiverton, Warren & Bristol