PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The federal government has given the state of Rhode Island the go-ahead to begin construction on 10 additional gantries to collect tolls from large commercial trucks.
The R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) submitted an environmental assessment of the new tolling locations last month, and announced Thursday that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) completed its evaluation and issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact," clearing the way for the work to move forward.
The 10 tolling gantries will be installed along I-95, I-195, I-295, U.S. Route 6 and State Route 146 in the towns of Providence, Warwick, Pawtucket, Cranston, Johnston, Cumberland, East Providence, Lincoln and North Smithfield.
RIDOT expects the first new tolling location to be activated by May 2019, and the remaining nine to be set up over the year that follows.
State lawmakers approved a total of 14 tolling locations as part of Gov. Gina Raimondo's RhodeWorks plan, which she signed into law in 2016. Only certain types of commercial trucks are to be tolled under the law, and all revenue must be used to repair the state's roads and bridges.
The plan has been met with opposition since its inception, most notably from the trucking industry. In July, the Virginia-based American Trucking Associations filed a lawsuit over the tolls, arguing they unfairly target large commercial tractor-trailers.
The state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit the following month.
The first two gantries — located on I-95 near Exits 2 and 5 in Exeter and Hopkinton — were installed earlier this year and went online in mid-June. The state has since collected $3.7 million in tolls, according to RIDOT.