When RIDOT activated its first two truck tolling gantries on June 11 of last year, it projected an average of 177,292 trucks would pass through each month — yielding an average of $598,667 in toll revenue. After 9 months of operation, these gantries are producing an average of 179,790 transactions each month, generating $595,402 in monthly income.
As a result, one of the more innovative and debated components of the RhodeWorks program is performing as planned. For the first two gantries on I-95 in Exeter and Hopkinton near Route 3, the 9-month total of approximately 1.6 million transactions has delivered nearly $5.36 million in revenue to the state as of March 10 of this year — just shy of the originally projected revenue of $5.9 million.
Next 10 tolling gantries now expected by May 2020.
The construction of the rest of the 14-gantry network planned as part of RhodeWorks has been delayed by federal approvals and toll equipment testing, which were more time-consuming than anticipated. On December 20, RIDOT announced the receipt of federal approval to construct the next 10 gantries for truck tolls. The agency expects to have all 10 of the new gantries in place by May 2020. This set of tolling passthroughs will stretch northward from Warwick, through the highway interchanges of Greater Providence, onward to Woonsocket.
Trucking industry lawsuit dismissed by federal court.
Matters have also been complicated in recent months by a trucking industry lawsuit in opposition to the RhodeWorks truck tolling program. The American Trucking Associations and the Cumberland Farms convenience store chain joined two other plaintiffs in bringing the suit.
In a 17-page ruling on March 19, Chief Judge William Smith of the Rhode Island U.S. District Court ruled that while the collected fees are dubbed as tolls, they “are really a highly targeted and sophisticated tax designed to fund infrastructure maintenance and improvements that would otherwise need to be paid for by other forms of tax-generated revenue.” He also said the plaintiffs needed to bring their case in state court, as the federal Tax Injunction Act prohibits federal court from hindering the levying of taxes at the state level.