Rhode Island bravely tries truck tolls

  Toll gantrys.

Toll gantrys.

Adapted from an item in Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com

The legal fight over the new truck-toll system that recently went into effect in Rhode Island is very interesting -- indeed it might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.  American Trucking Associations (sic) is suing to end the tolls, calling them unfair because the only class of vehicles whose owners must pay the tolls are large commercial tractor-trailers.

I hope that the state wins. These vehicles do the lion’s share of damage on Rhode Island’s roads and bridges.

The state says:

“The RhodeWorks bridge tolling program is a unique approach to repairing bridges by tolling only specific types of tractor trailers. The tolls collected at each location in Rhode Island will go to repair the bridge or bridge group associated with that toll location.’’

That the program is “unique’’ might be its legal Achilles heel. Singling out certain classes for taxation can be legally problematic. But I admire Governor Raimondo for being willing to take the heat in having Rhode Island finally  seriously address its terrible transportation infrastructure problems, with the economic woes that accompany them.

Federal gasoline taxes (which pay for some of our highways)  haven’t been raised since 1993, and America’s transportation infrastructure is falling apart. There seems to be little will in Washington to address this. Instead tax cuts tailored to please rich campaign contributors are prioritized. And so the states must come up with their own ways of  financing the  urgently needed repair of their roads, bridges and public transit.

  A quaint table of tolls in pre-decimal currency in Dulwich, England.

A quaint table of tolls in pre-decimal currency in Dulwich, England.