A report critical of the revenue projections in Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo's plan to toll trucks along the state's interstate highways stems from a vested trucking industry agenda, according to a Raimondo spokeswoman.
"Of course they prefer to keep getting a free ride in Rhode Island, while causing most of the damage to our roads and bridges that are consistently ranked worst in the nation," said Raimondo press secretary Marie Aberger.
On Tuesday, a report by Englewood, Colo.-based analytics company IHS on behalf of the Rhode Island Trucking Association said revenue from tolls under Raimondo's RhodeWorks plan, which the governor unveiled in 2015, would only generate $24 million to $37.5 million per year.
That's well below the $60 million per year Regional Economic Models Inc. of Amherst, Mass., cited in a report for the state. Association president Chris Maxwell also said the REMI report inadequately accounted for truck-routing diversion potential around the state.
"The governor believes we have to invest more in roads and bridges, but doesn't think hardworking Rhode Island families should bear that burden," said Aberger. "Instead, she has a proposed smart, innovative, and fair solution that would have trucks pay user fees, as they do in nearly every other state from Maryland to Maine."
The toll proposal passed Rhode Island's Senate last year but stalled in the House after trucking leaders complained that it unfairly targeted one industry.
Rhode Island officials say the state Department of Transportation based its revenue estimate on the number of bridge crossings, not the number of through trips – six user-fee locations, for example, should a truck drive through the state on Interstate 95, they would cross six user fee locations. This, they say, more accurately reflects fees gathered than through trips.
They added that RIDOT based the $60 million figure on a conservative truck volume that factored in assumed rates of diversion and contingencies.