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Newport County Chamber Supports Freezing Toll Rates, Blocking Sakonnet Bridge Toll

The Newport County Chamber of Commerce supports local lawmakers' efforts to find sustainable funding for bridge maintenance other than relying on tolls.

The Board of Directors of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted to support Sen. Louis DiPalma’s bill to freeze tolls on the Newport Bridge and prohibit tolling on the Sakonnet River Bridge. 

Co-sponsored by senators Teresa Paiva Weed, Walter S. Felag, Christopher S. Ottiano and David Bates, DiPalma’s bill is unique from all other legislation relating to bridge tolling. Senate Bill 0242 not only prohibits tolling on the Sakonnet, Mt. Hope and Jamestown Verrazano bridges but it also freezes tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge. 

This bill is the first to address the need for a sustainable funding mechanism for bridge maintenance and for state Department of Transportation (DOT) funding, making it the first real opportunity for a funding stream in lieu of tolls. 

“Instituting tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge will negatively impact all Rhode Island residents and businesses by increasing the cost of living and of doing business in Newport County and the East Bay, “ Laura Pedrick, Chamber Board of Directors chairperson said. 

Additional tolls would:

  • Increase the cost of goods and services to Aquidneck Island and the East Bay. 
  • Increase the cost of doing business to all Aquidneck Island businesses. Increase the cost to commuters who travel the toll bridges. 
  • Increase the cost of compensation/recruitment for employers seeking qualified candidates from Southeastern New England.
  • Decrease our competitive position in preparation for the anticipated 2015 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process by increasing the  commuter cost for the Defense industry including  Raytheon, NUWC and Naval Station Newport employees who commute over tolled bridges 

“This is an issue of equity and fairness," said DiPalma. "Any additional tolls would place an unfair burden on Newport Pell and Sakonnet Bridge users. We would be the only communities in the state required to pay for the maintenance of our own transportation infrastructure.”

“Expansion of tolling to the Sakonnet River Bridge sets a dangerous precedent for future State highway and transportation infrastructure projects," said Chamber Executive Director Jody Sullivan. "Rest assured that if this toll passes there will be a toll coming soon to a neighborhood near you. The Chamber and its members will work together to gather support for this bill”.

The Chamber Board also expressed concern that a comprehensive analysis of the real economic impact to the existing and future business environment, cost of living, and employment and workforce, has not been completed. The Chamber will forward copies of the attached resolution to local, state and federal government officials.

Jim L April 13, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Sometimes when the people speak as voters other people listen.
Robert Oliveira April 13, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Jim L, to a political observer, all this press release does is show how sloppy STOP and the PBA are when it comes to organization. Also notice which bill, and which approach, they decided to get behind.
electrik Mike April 13, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Well then, let's "speak" to Governor Chafee who gave moot approval to tanking the state's economy with anti-business and anti-commerce tolls. Also we can "speak to Congressman David Ciciline who is MIA on this and most other issues in his district. Vote them both bye bye next November.
Jim L April 13, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Robert O, what you don't seem to realize is I don't care who's bill' wheres it from or who put it in matters to me, if it stops the tolls then I'm all for ir, and if it doesn't get stopped then people should be remembered who let it happen, so your post is rather useless
John Vit April 15, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Mr. Oliveira, At last check you were not a Member of the Portsmouth Business Association. You also had nothing to do with the Sakonnet River Bridge Toll Discussion Group. I do remember your request that the PBA rasie $10,000. to hand over to your Lawyer that was going to [part the waters & get us into the RI Supreme Court. I don't remember you in attendence at the East Bay Legislators Breakfast in Sept, or the Governors meeting in Nov. You also didn't make it to the RIEDC or the meeting the PBA & NCCC had with our Federal Legislators. To call the efforts of theSTOP volunteers & the 100+ Portsmouth Business Association Membrs is just as lame as you attempting to extort the $10K for your Lawyer Friend. You want to have your voice heard? Attend the rally at the State House on 4/25/13 at NOON. I'll slow you personally & professional how dedicated these ALL VOLUNTEERS ARE about stopping the toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge.
Concerned Resident April 15, 2013 at 01:12 PM
jl, typical ri residents wanting something for nothing without concern to any except themselves. yea I know, I got my bridge and it will surly last my lifetime so don't ask me to pay for it.
Tom Letourneau April 15, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I have commented on this particular issue and what it is is the even bigger issue behind it.....power in the hands of an Egotistical small group of 'Power Mongers' an epidemic that is rampart inn this state. YES...in this instance I am speaking of David Darlington the Chief Honcho of the Turnpike and Bridge Authority! Rogues Island is made up of more Governmental and Quasi-Governmental bodies then is at all needed. 39-Cities and Towns. 39-School Districts. 5-Counties 'On Paper Only' - the only state in the entire country with no form of County, Consolidated Government.....including Regional. Almost 50-Independent Fire Districts on top of the City and Town ones...each a little Fiefdom unto themselves. We have sewer boards and commissions, we have water boards and commissions....straight-out fact here it the fact that we have way the hell too many bodies comprised of individuals that just have to have come kind of control and power over something so that they can feel important! And, no where is this more evident in the, for all intents and purposes, totally useless Turnpike a Bridge Authority and all (Power, People and Costs) associated with it when it should, at best, be nothing more then a Division within the State Department of Transportation!
Robert Oliveira April 15, 2013 at 02:43 PM
John, here's where you're not: In rooms on Smith Hill where you are openly laughed at. By the way, the progress on the $10k, thanks to the upstate New York timeshare market, is going along nicely. You're starting to remind me of Ken Block. That's not a good thing.
Robert Oliveira April 15, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Tom, well said.
Pat Silvia April 15, 2013 at 06:13 PM
RO, yes, please join us at the State House. Let your voice be heard. And in the end, aren't we all political observers if we don't hold office?
Robert Oliveira April 15, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Pat, there's a difference between observing with a learned eye and wondering just what the Hell is going on. My voice has been heard as the Speaker and I communicated via email two weeks ago. He knows exactly how I feel and I have a sense of how he feels. I will be communicating with him publicly again soon.
Robert Oliveira April 16, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Joe, I'm not the one who supported all the losers last time around. I'm in and out of Smith Hill on a weekly basis. Why do you feel the need to tell lie after lie?? Is that what happens when you suffer from both a lack of education and a lack of talent??
Pat Silvia April 16, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Robert, why don't you just explain to all of us what your business is at the State House? I am really interested. What do you really do there? You have written about your creds and insider knowledge many times, but never gave specifics. If you are to be believed, you should give us some background.

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