Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) directors reaffirmed plans to toll the Sakonnet River bridge beginning July 1 in a vote last week.  David Darlington, chairman of RITBA, said the authority can’t fund necessary maintenance of the four bridges it’s responsible for without larger toll revenues.

RITBA currently tolls only the Newport/Pell Bridge and for some years has also managed and maintained the untolled Mount Hope Bridge. Recently the state legislature in order to free up money for other purposes transferred responsibility for two other bridges - the Sakkonet and the Jamestown - from RIDOT to the toll authority, according to a report in Toll Road News.

Darlington said $350 million needs to be spent on maintenance and repairs over the next 10 years on the four bridges.

“We don’t ever want to be in the position to have to replace an entire bridge due to a lack of maintenance. The cost would be astronomical, whereas a schedule of ongoing maintenance is more affordable and is the industry best practice,” the authority said.

Without maintenance, Darlington points out, the bridges would sooner have to be fully replaced at much greater cost.

Rhode Island E-ZPass account holders will pay a 75 cents toll, out-of-state E-ZPass account holders will pay $3.75 and those video tolled $5.25. In addition there is an unlimited monthly travel plan for $36.14 for cars. Light trucks will pay $100 for the monthly plan.