Providence, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) released a chart to show the anticipated revenue and expenses of the RhodeWorks tolling program. These revenues and expenses were developed by RIDOT engineers and are based on an actual Level Three traffic study and defined contract costs.

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said, “Let me be completely clear, we have a level three traffic study conducted by outside experts that shows we will gross conservatively $45 million from our tolling program. We also have established the actual operation and maintenance costs that are in the contract with the company that will operate and maintain the tolling system.”

The contract fixes the cost to operate and maintain the system at $2.5 million. RIDOT will pay the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge an administrative fee of $1.3 million per year to collect the tolls, process credit cards, and to administer penalties and fees. Additional revenues from penalties and fees were estimated from what Massachusetts DOT has collected from their tolling system. RIDOT estimates conservatively that approximately 2.5% of the total revenue will be realized in penalties and fines or $1.1 million.

The net revenue will therefore be $42.3 million, not $7.397 million.

In regard to the other numbers:

  • Costs associated with debt service have nothing to do with tolling, to include them would be like considering the cost of plowing snow in relation to tolls
  • Credit card fees are included in our administrative costs
  • Annual maintenance on toll booths and periodic maintenance are zero because there are no toll booths
  • IFTA tax losses are negligible (less than 0.1 percent)
  • Reduction in registration fees and rebates for Clean Diesel Fund are entirely separate from the Tolling Program and are not part of the RhodeWorks legislation or the RIDOT budget.
  • The net revenue from tolls is $42.3 million annually or 10 percent of RIDOT’s total revenues. The net revenue will be used only to repair Rhode Island’s bridges and will provide a reliable source of funds to keep our bridges in good repair in the future.

In regard to the rehabilitation of the Oxford Street Bridge, a key component of the RhodeWorks program is asset management approach to infrastructure repair. This means that RIDOT performs preventive maintenance on its assets — roads and bridges — to keep them from requiring tremendous increases in cost to repair once they have failed.

Director Alviti noted that the bridge consultant cited in the assessment of the Oxford Street Bridge admitted that he “has not studied Rhode Island’s progress toward adopting an asset management practice for the bridge replacement prioritization as mandated by MAP-21 legislation.” This asset management approach guided our selection of the Oxford Street Bridge as a bridge in need of repair.

The current superstructure condition of the Oxford Street Bridge is rated 5 by the FHWA as confirmed by bridge inspection reports. A rating of 4 will put the bridge into the structurally deficient category which means it is dangerous and much more expensive to repair. By preventing that decline, RIDOT will save millions of dollars and will keep 163,000 cars that use the bridge safe. Over the 10-year RhodeWorks plan to bring our bridges into a state of good repair, this approach will save taxpayers over $900 million