RIDOT to install first truck-toll gantries this week

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Two years after Gov. Gina Raimondo signed her signature RhodeWorks bill into law, her administration will begin constructing toll gantries to collect cash from large commercial trucks that use Rhode Island’s highways.

The first two toll gantries will begin going up on Monday in Hopkinton and Exeter on I-95, according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. A number of lanes will be closed during the process, and there will be a brief overnight highway closure.

Fourteen total toll locations are planned, as part of the RhodeWorks law that passed in 2016. The 10-year road-and-bridge repair plan calls for collecting truck tolls to pay for the costs of rebuilding and rehabilitating the state’s crumbling infrastructure. Work on many of those projects has already begun.

RIDOT and Raimondo have argued that large tractor-trailer trucks do the most damage to Rhode Island roads, and therefore should contribute to fixing them. The trucking industry has fought back, consistently threatening to sue the state as soon as the first toll is collected.

“Everything up to this point has been conjecture and spin by RIDOT and Governor Raimondo,” said Chris Maxwell, the president of the RI Trucking Association, on Friday. “They now face their biggest challenge in a court of law and we’re ready to roll!!!”

“We have been prepared for three years for any challenges to this,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said. “We expect that we will succeed in defending any challenge.”

Alviti says the toll gantries that will go up next week will go through a month of testing before the automated system begins charging trucks that drive under them, either through an EZ Pass transponder or by billing the truck driver by their license plate.

The price for Toll 1 in Hopkinton and Toll 2 in Exeter will be $3.25 and $3.50, respectively. The rest of the tolls gantries are slated to go up gradually over the next 18 months.

Next week, daytime single-lane closures are scheduled on I-95 North and South Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the two tolling locations. The first location is one mile north of Exit 2, and the other is three miles south of Exit 5.

The highway will be temporarily fully closed from approximately 1-3 a.m. Thursday and Friday, while the installation of the actual gantries occurs. RIDOT says “rolling roadblocks” will be used, by lowering the speed limit to 25 mph.