The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) this week received notification from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that the Environmental Assessment process has been concluded for the first two locations for all-electronic truck-only tolling to be built along I-95 in southern Rhode Island.
The FHWA determined that the implementation of the proposed action would not have a significant impact on the human environment and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental Assessment, conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This independent analysis by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is based on the Environmental Assessment and subject to a public comment period, including a November 21 public hearing, and concluded that "agency and public concerns have been properly considered in the deployment of this project, and all comments have been resolved."
"We thank the FHWA for their diligence in this matter," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "The Finding of No Significant Impact confirms what we have been saying all along, that truck-only tolling will not have an adverse impact on the communities along our highways. It is a fair system addressing a user fee for the large trucks who do the most damage to our roads and bridges, and will provide a dedicated and reliable revenue stream to help maintain our transportation system."
The FONSI indicates that the Environmental Assessment provides "sufficient evidence and analysis for determining that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required," and that the FHWA "takes full responsibility for the accuracy, scope and content" of the Environmental Assessment.
RIDOT will direct its tolling contractor to begin final design of the tolling gantries and associated technology. Construction of the gantries themselves is expected to take place in January, with a period of testing to follow. RIDOT anticipates revenue collection to begin by late February, but only go live with the system when the tolling contractor has certified that all systems are working properly.
Toll Locations 1 and 2 are both located along Interstate 95 (I-95) in the southwestern part of Rhode Island. Each toll location functions independently of one another and is associated with the reconstruction or replacement of specific bridges in accordance with the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction, and Maintenance Fund state law known as RhodeWorks and consistent with requirements set forth in 23 C.F.R 129.
The bridges at Locations 1 and 2 are the Wood River Valley Bridge, the northbound and southbound Tefft Hill Trail Bridges, and the Baker Pines Bridge. The proposed toll systems at Toll Locations 1 and 2 will be used to collect toll revenues from tractor or truck tractors, pulling a trailer or trailers as defined in 23 C.F.R. 658.5, and as defined in the Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction and Maintenance Fund, also known as the RhodeWorks legislation.