To the Editor:
I am writing an open letter to DOT Director Lewis, with a request to clarify statements made on 03/26/12, (by DOTDirector Michael P. Lewis) and reported in a Newport Daily News article, “DOT director: Toll needed on new bridge” on 03/27/12.
The article stated: “Tolls from the Pell Bridge and the new Sakonnet Bridge would be dedicated to repairs of all four Newport County spans with about $10 million to $15 million a year reserved for other East Bay road and bridgeprojects, Lewis said. That would ensure local infrastructure projects do not have to compete for finite state resources,he said.”
QUESTION 1: Does the above statement indicate that the tolls from the Newport Bridge and the proposed SakonnetBridge toll would support the maintenance and repair of the Newport, Bridge, the Sakonnet Bridge, the JamestownBridge, and the Mount Hope Bridge, plus $10 million to $15 million from the tolls would be reserved for maintenanceand repair of all East Bay (Newport County and Bristol County) bridges and roads?
QUESTION 2: Does the statement above ‘That would ensure local infrastructure projects do not have to compete forfinite state resources, he said.’ indicate that the reason that East Bay projects would not have to compete for resourcesis because all the East Bay bridge and road funding would be from the tolls, and none of the funding would come fromthe RI DOT via the RI gas tax, or the RI DOT funding, or the RI funding received from the Federal Government for RIroad and bridge projects?
QUESTION 3: Does the above statement indicate that it is the intent of the DOT to transfer all DOT bridge and roadfunding (other than the tolls from the Newport and Sakonnet Bridges) from the East Bay to the remainder of the State,if and when the Sakonnet Bridge starts collecting tolls?
QUESTION 4: Does the above statement indicate that after the $10 million to $15 million a year re served for otherEast Bay road and bridge projects, any money left from the Newport County tolls could be used to supplement themoney for bridges and roads across the remainder of the State?
QUESTION 5: Do you believe that it is fair, moral, and legal to transfer bridge and road funding from the East Bay tothe remainder of the state, when the money is derived from the RI gas tax, the RI income and sales tax, other RI taxesand fees, and from the Federal give back of federal taxes to RI for bridges and roads?Wouldn’t that be the same as using the toll money to supplement the entire RI DOT budget for the entire State of RI, atthe expense of the East Bay?
Roger A. Bennis