Public hearings on tolls set for July 27
Rhode Islanders can weigh in on DOT’s environmental assessments of tolls
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will hold three hearings on July 27 to allow the public to voice their opinion on its Environmental Assessment for a series of toll locations across the state.
The hearings will be at Central Falls High School, 24 Summer St. in Central Falls; Toll Gate High School, 575 Centerville Road in Warwick; and Mount Pleasant High School, 434 Mount Pleasant Ave. in Providence. All three will be on Friday, July 27, at 6 p.m.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, RIDOT on Thursday posted for public comment its Environmental Assessment for Toll Locations 3, 4 and 6 through 13 on Interstate 95, Interstate 195, Interstate 295, Route 6 and Route 146 in Cumberland, East Providence, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Cranston, Johnston, Providence and Warwick.
The 198-page assessment is available on the RIDOT website (www.dot.ri.gov/tolling/index.php). In its executive summary, it states that RIDOT is proposing to build and operate toll systems at 10 locations along five major highway corridors in the state.
The proposed toll locations would be used to collect toll revenue from a tractor or truck tractor traveling across select bridges associated with the toll locations. Each toll system would be comprised of one or more gantries with communication and electrical connections, a roadside cabinet on a concrete pad, and additional safety guardrail.
RIDOT has not yet approved specific toll rates but are limited to $20 total for a border-to-border through trip on I-95 from Connecticut to Massachusetts and will not exceed $40 per day.
Implementation of tolling on an existing road can sometimes result in a shift of travel behavior in which some drivers travel on a different route to avoid paying a toll, the assessment states. The potential shift of vehicles away from the tolled facilities is referred to as a “toll diversion,” and 15 such routes have been identified as potential parallel routes that trucks may use to avoid tolls at the locations.
Indirect impacts resulting from truck diversion traffic were considered and the study states that “given the small increase in truck volumes on diversion routes, these impacts were determined not to result in significant impacts, with most impacts being imperceptible or minor and comparable to existing conditions.” The assessment also states that due to the limited ground disturbances associated with the construction of the toll locations, there are limited direct impacts to the human and natural environment.
Comments will also be solicited by Aug. 11. Following the public comment period and once the comments are incorporated into the report, the Federal Highway Administration will examine it further to determine if a full Environmental Impact Statement is warranted or the report results in a finding of no significant impact, RIDOT officials said.
In addition to being posted on the RIDOT website, the Environmental Assessment will be available in public libraries and town halls in Burrillville, Central Falls, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Middletown, Newport, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Scituate, Smithfield, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick and Woonsocket. It will also be available across the border in Attleboro and Uxbridge.