The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has initiated a request for proposals (RFP) process to solicit applications from companies to design, build, operate and maintain all electronic tolling facilities for the state’s new truck-only tolling program in accordance with the RhodeWorks legislation.
The agency’s competitive process seeks a company to design and build the tolling facilities and associated infrastructure, in order to fund the reconstruction of deficient bridges throughout Rhode Island. The selected firm also will be required to operate and maintain the toll facilities to ensure they function properly. The tolling locations throughout Rhode Island will feature all-electronic tolling (AET), and only large commercial trucks will be charged a toll. There will be no toll booths and no stopping to pay fees, as the infrastructure will operate as an open-road tolling (ORT) system. No passenger vehicles will be tolled. RIDOT expects to award a contract in Spring 2017. Construction of the tolling facilities will take approximately a year and half to build, reaching completion by the end of 2018.
In October 2016, RIDOT executed 13 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), one for each tolling location on both state bridges and interstate bridges. In the MOUs, the FHWA ‘hereby agrees that the Toll Project meets the toll eligibility requirements of 23 USC 129 (a) (1)’, the applicable federal law. A 14th MOU for the Providence Viaduct will be executed once the existing environmental mitigation requirements for the project are satisfied. The truck-only tolling was signed into law by Governor Raimondo on February 11, 2016, with the passage of the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction and Maintenance Fund Act, better known as ‘RhodeWorks.
Through RhodeWorks, RIDOT is authorized to toll large commercial trucks in order to fund, in part, the replacement or reconstruction of bridges throughout the state. With this program, Rhode Island joins eight other states from Maryland to Maine that toll for the purpose of funding infrastructure. Rhode Island will also become the second state in the union that has tolling locations only on large commercial vehicles. The New York Thruway Authority operates a large commercial vehicle only tolling location at its Spring Valley toll plaza. A GAO (Government Accountability Office) report to Congress indicated that one fully loaded tractor trailer can do the equivalent damage of 9,600 cars.
“Rhode Island has the worst bridges in America,” said RIDOT director, Peter Alviti Jr. “While tolling revenues will provide approximately 10% of RIDOT’s overall funding, it is a vital component that allows us to fast track bringing the state’s bridges into a state of good repair within 10 years.”