Construction begins on truck toll gantries

RICHMOND, R.I. (WPRI) – Construction is underway on the first of 14 truck toll gantries on I-95.

Crews began work just after 7 a.m. Monday on the first two gantries, which will be located at the Richmond town lines bordering Exeter and Hopkinton.

Construction is expected to cause traffic delays, with lane closures planned between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and full highway closures in effect in the area from 1 a.m.-3 a.m. Thursday.

The proposed tolls have faced opposition since their introduction under Governor Raimondo’s RhodeWorks initiative.

“I just think that it’s a shame that we’re out here delivering goods that everybody buys in the stores and we have to be here, but they want to take more money out of our pockets,” Truck Driver Charles Sullivan said.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti said the toll gantries are necessary for keeping up with bridge repairs.

“One large tractor trailer causes the same damage as 9,600 passenger vehicles,” he said.

Alviti said the new gantries are about “fairness,” but Sullivan said the tolling plans are anything but.

“We try to get up in here, get our deliveries done and get back out,” Sullivan said. “We’re not the ones that are back and forth back and forth back and forth every day all day.”

Sullivan isn’t the only one with this opinion. Truck drivers say it is unfair to only toll truck drivers, and have previously threatened to sue.

“It could be a lawsuit out the gate, it could be a lawsuit when the whole plan comes to fruition,” President of the RI Trucking Association Christopher Maxwell said.

The remaining 14 gantries are expected to be installed across the state throughout the next 18 months.