Trucking will ‘suffer greatly’ from R.I. tolls, anti-toll groups say

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tollThe message from trucking organizations in Rhode Island Tuesday was clear: the state’s trucks-only toll plan will hurt truck drivers who operate in the state, along with businesses there.

An anti-toll rally was held Tuesday at the TravelCenters of America truck stop in West Greenwich, R.I., with representatives from the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the Rhode Island Trucking Association and more to provide information about the state’s RhodeWorks tolling plan and the problems it could cause.

“The trucking industry and related entities – including truck stops and travel centers – will suffer greatly from a discriminatory truck-only toll,” said Chris Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association. “The implementation of these tolls, whether in Rhode Island or nationwide, will change the footprint of our supply chain and commerce and will negatively affect retail establishments when trucks divert around tolls. We commend members of the General Assembly for their courage and foresight in opposing RhodeWorks.”

Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO, warned the toll plan will create problems for businesses and consumers in Rhode Island.

“Tolls have been shown time and again to create traffic diversion as drivers, who detest tolls, seek to find alternative routes,” Mullings said. “That loss of traffic will very quickly create a harsh reality for consumers, employees and local communities. Businesses will be forced to increase prices for goods sold, residents stand to lose jobs if businesses falter. Towns and communities will lose millions in tax revenues used to support schools, fire departments and other public services. Furthermore, this deplorable economic disruption will replicate across the country as other states seek to follow in Rhode Island’s footsteps.”

In the plan, drivers of class 8 trucks will pay a maximum of $20 to travel through the state along Interstate 95 one-way. Each electronic toll gantry a trucker passes under would cost about $3. The maximum daily charge would be $40.

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Federal officials approved Rhode Island’s plan earlier this month.