NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced an ambitious plan this week to finance much-needed repairs to the state’s bridges and roads, but the head of Ocean State Job Lot believes the proposal will make the state even less business-friendly.
Gov. Raimondo is proposing borrowing $700 million to fund the sweeping infrastructure plan, then paying the money back by levying tolls on large commercial trucks.
- Related: Raimondo: ‘We have to do something’ about crumbling bridges, roads
- Background: RI leaders plan toll to fund sweeping bridge repairs
- More: RI Trucking Association: Toll proposal unfairly targets industry
Ocean State Job Lot owner and CEO Marc Perlman told Eyewitness News on Friday that he just wants his company to be on a level playing field.
At the company’s cavernous facility in Quonset, things are in constant motion. Their trucks make about 60,000 trips in and out of the 800,000 square-foot distribution center each year.
“85 percent of the business we do is actually outside of the state of Rhode Island, so it’s important to make sure that we do not have a competitive disadvantage in supplying states outside of Rhode Island,” said owner and CEO Marc Perlman.
Perlman agrees that the state’s roads and bridges are in need of repair, but he said a few businesses shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the cost.
“If tolls were applied everywhere equally, tolls would be fine. We’d have a level playing field,” he said. “If Rhode Island creates a set of circumstances that it makes no sense to be here, the marketplace will react to it.”
Perlman said he doesn’t expect Job Lot to leave Rhode Island. He wants to work with the state to come up with a better solution to fund the bridge repairs.
“Let’s put some smart people in a room and let’s come out with a conclusion that works in everybody’s best interest,” he said.
Gov. Raimondo and other state leaders announced the plan Wednesday, but the details were thin. She wants to toll up to 20 bridges, but it’s not yet clear which bridges will be included or how much each individual toll will cost truckers.
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said it would cost about $40 to cross the state via I-95.
The governor’s proposal impacts commercial trucks Class 6 though Class 13, and explicitly prohibits tolls on passenger vehicles. If approved, the plan could go into effect as soon as the middle of next year.