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Guest MINDSETTER ™ Berwick: Repairing and Replacing RI’s Structurally Deficient Bridges

Thursday, August 06, 2015

 

There is a way to repair and replace Rhode Island's structurally deficient bridges without bonding and tolling.  In addition, this new plan would provide an economic stimulus to most residents in Rhode Island and to most businesses in Rhode Island.

First, Rhode Island's fuel tax on gasoline and diesel fuel should be reduced to 20 cents per gallon. Every Rhode Island driver and many Massachusetts and Connecticut drivers would buy their fuel in Rhode Island. While the tax would be lower, the number of gallon sold would greatly increase. Business at every fueling station in Rhode Island would increase and over one thousand new jobs would be created. Rhode Island's income tax and sales tax revenue would also increase.

Next, Rhode Island should allow two truck stops to be built at the present rest areas on I-295 in Lincoln. Many out of state large truck drivers would buy their diesel fuel at these new truck stops because of the low price.   The average large truck driver would pay 30 dollars in diesel fuel taxes per stop. These truck drivers would also take advantage of all the other amenities available at these new truck stops. Hundreds of new jobs would be created and diesel fuel tax revenue in Rhode Island would increase dramatically. 

Lastly, I would put a 30 dollar surcharge on each vehicle liability insurance policy sold in Rhode Island.  This would raise 30 million dollars per year that could be dedicated to repairing and replacing structurally deficient bridges in Rhode Island, Because vehicle liability insurance companies are highly competitive (Geico, Progressive, etc.), the cost of each policy sold would not increase by 30 dollars. To keep their customers from choosing another vehicle liability insurance company, each company would pay the 30 dollars to Rhode island,  however, each company would not add 30 dollars to their customers’ bills. The amount added would be much lower.  

The new "BRIDGE" Act, which has bipartisan support in the United States Congress, will soon be passed. This Act would provide 49% of the funds for each series of bridges that would be repaired or replaced each year in Rhode Island by providing low interest loans.  

The insurance surcharge and diesel fuel tax increases would provide about 40 million dollars per year. Combining these funds with the BRIDGE Act funds, about 80 million dollars would be available each year to repair and replace Rhode Island's structurally deficient bridges. 

Most of this money would go to repairing and replacing bridges. None of this money would go to build and maintain tolling infrastructure, to provide tax rebates, to provide tax credits or to provide direct grants to shipping companies. However, the average Rhode Island car driver who buys 600 gallons of gas per year would save 75 dollars per year and the average Rhode Island large truck driver who buys 150 gallons of diesel fuel per week would save one thousand dollars per year. A trucking company in Rhode Island with 20 large trucks would save $20,000.00 per year.  

Kenneth Berwick of Smithfield, RI Served three years in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1957. Berwick is a retired teacher with a BA from RIC in 1960 and a Masters from Syracuse in 1969.

 

Related Slideshow: RI’s Most Dangerous Bridges

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association recently released a list of the most traveled, deficient bridges in each state. In Rhode Island, those bridges were: 

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10.

US-6 eastbound and westbound over US-6A/Hartford Avenue.

52,678 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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9.

RI-146/Ed Dowl Highway over RI-246/Charles Street.

72,800 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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8.

RI-146/Ed Dowl Highway over RI-15/Mineral Spring Avenue.

72,800 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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7.

I-195 westbound over the Seekonk River. 

76,700 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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6.

I-95 northbound and southbound over RI-2/Quaker Lane.

77,800 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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5.

I-95 northbound and southbound over Wellington Avenue.

147,984 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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4.

I-95 northbound and southbound over Jefferson Boulevard.

156,400 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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3.

I-95 northbound and southbound over Amtrak.

159,200 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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2.

Broad Street over I-95 northbound and southbound and the P&W Railroad.

179,600 daily crossings

The bridge is structurally deficient

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1.

Interstate 95 northbound and southbound over US-1 (Elmwood Avenue).

186,500 daily crossing

The bridge is structurally deficient

 
 

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