Councilman doesn’t want RhodeWorks toll gantries in Cranston

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston city councilman wants to ask the General Assembly to vote no on building toll gantries on highways in his city, after a preliminary proposal earlier this week included a location on Interstate 295.

Christopher Paplauskas, who represents Ward 5, released a statement Friday saying he will submit a formal resolution to the full city council that will ask lawmakers on Smith Hill to not approve the RhodeWorks plan.

“Putting truck tolls on Route 295 [sic] in Cranston, in the area of Plainfield Pike, will have a direct, negative impact on local businesses,” the councilman said.

Eyewitness News caught up with Paplauskas in person Friday afternoon. He believes a toll gantry would hurt Cranston’s chances for companies that want to relocate, and hurt ancillary businesses.

“I think it’s going to have a negative impact on the local business community, and also new business that’s going to come into Cranston,” he said. “I think it’s going to negatively impact them. I’m also concerned about truckers that are going to get off the highway and use secondary roads, add extra wear and tear to the local roads and create a safety issue.”

Governor Gina Raimondo’s office says the revenue of RhodeWorks is needed to repair Rhode Island’s many deteriorating roads and bridges. A study commissioned by the state Department of Revenue found the RhodeWorks plan to toll long-haul freight trucks driving through the state would increase the state’s gross domestic product by $538 million, increase residents’ personal income and create more than 6,400 jobs.

But trucking companies and state lawmakers have been vocal in asking for alternatives, from increasing gas taxes to trucking registration fees.

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