By Dee DeQuattro, WPRO News
After two nights of packed meetings in Portsmouth and Tiverton to discuss proposed tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge RIDOT Director says residents’ concerns expressed at the meeting will be taken into account during the toll proposal.
“That is the reason we held the meeting so the people in the East Bay have a voice in how this gets implemented if it gets implemented,” Lewis told the WPRO News with Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil.
The RIDOT will now re-evaluate the state’s Environmental Impact Statement that was previously approved and submit it the Federal Highway Administration next year for review.
“Now we got to assess what they said, do an evaluation and then take it forward with the Federal Highway Administration,” said Lewis.
Last session the General Assembly authorized the transfer of the Jamestown and Sakonnet River Bridges to control of the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority. The authority and the RI DOT has said tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge would help Rhode Island fund bridge maintenance.
“We do not have the revenues in order to adequately maintain the roads and bridges in our state,” said Lewis. Lewis expressed how Rhode Island bridges are among the worst in the country because they are not properly maintained. “This is about trying to find a way that these very important bridges will be maintained.”
Lewis noted he doesn’t see a way right now that Rhode Island can maintain the bridges without the proposed tolls. He noted that several legislators attended the meetings and that they may suggest legislation when the General Assembly resumes.
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