2013-11-21 / Opinion

Sakonnet Toll Revelations

To the Editor: I often wondered why the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) pushed forward with tolling on the Sakonnet River Bridge, when there were about five bills in the Legislature to repeal Article 20 or to find alternate funding for maintaining the Mount Hope, Newport, Jamestown, and Sakonnet bridges.

RITBA Chairman David Darlington told me that the tolling moved forward because the present law allowed it and the fate of pending legislation was uncertain.

I recently discovered more information in the contract between RITBA and Law Enforcement Systems (LES), a New York limited liability company which is tasked with collecting non-transponder and overdue tolls. This agreement was signed on Aug. 6, 2012, approximately five weeks after the start of the 2013 State budget period which contained Article 20 and the authorization to turn over the Mount Hope and Sakonnet bridges to RITBA. The relevant provisions read as follows:

“Termination Fee: In the event of termination by either Party … RITBA shall pay to LES the ‘Termination Fee.’ Notwithstanding anything contained herein, after termination of this agreement for any reason, LES may treat this agreement as ongoing and not terminated and continue to provide and be compensated for Services until the Termination Fee is paid in full. The Termination Fee shall be as follows:

First Period – Beginning on the effective date, and ending one year from the date of the end of the Implementation Period. The Termination Fee is $3 million.

Second Period – Beginning first day following the first period, and ending one year after such date.

The Termination Fee is $2.25 million.

Third Period – Beginning first day following the second period and ending one year after such date. The Termination Fee is $1.65 million.

Fourth Period – Beginning first day following the third period, and ending one year after such date. The Termination Fee is $1.05 million.”

People have to take responsibility for the actions and decisions of those they elect to office; otherwise, this is what you get. Antone Viveiros

Middletown

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