Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why EZ PASS on Pell Bridge?

I rec'd this today from Jamestowner Deb Ruggiero, candidate for State Rep. (Middletown & Jamestown). The Daily News also ran an article. I still don't under stand WHY the EZ PASS. I have not noticed that the toll booths cause traffic jams.- please correct me if you've otherwise.

Any traffic woes seem to be caused by frequent bridge work closing down one or more lanes. The other problem is two lanes of bridge traffic merging into one to take the Newport exit. And let's not ignore the closing of the Portsmouth bridge to trucks. The new pass system will not eliminate these problem & seems to be rather expensive for an agency crying over money concerns.

What RITBA still hasn't publicly said is that the contracts for this system are already signed & a done deal. So why this new system & what's the cost? Or is it just another way to sneak hidden user fees onto us. And what good the public hearings at this point. Shouldn't they have been done prior to the contract signing? BTW, Newport's Mayor Waluk serves on this governing board (shh!).

From Deb:

RITBA finally holds a real public hearing!

Give credit where credit is due. Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority (RITBA) listened to concerns from me, Senator Teresa Paiva Weed and many local residents and will hold a real public hearing!

Join us next Tuesday, Sept 16th night 7 pm at the Hyatt Regency in Newport for what is the pre-destined implementation of the EZ PASS.

The so called ‘public hearings’ by RITBA this past Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday were a misnomer leaving many local residents frustrated and angry.

To their credit, Chair Dave Darlington and his crew listened to the complaints and scheduled a ‘real’ public hearing next Tuesday. They’ll explain the EZ PASS program and entertain questions from concerned citizens in a public forum. Therefore, the RITBA monthly board meeting set for Sept 17th has been postponed so they can review suggestions.

Perhaps EZ PASS will prove to be more efficient, but there are concerns about discounts for local residents. It would seem that if you are a local resident with more than one vehicle a frequency discount on transponders should apply. Each transponder costs $27 (cost to RITBA is $22 and there’s a $5 maintenance fee). Perhaps RITBA should consider waiving the maintenance fees for local residents. Some states don’t even charge for transponders!

There are also concerns about possible ‘data mining’ from the transponders. What happens to the information that is gathered and stored? How will it be used? Dave Darlington says RITBA will only release personal information if subpoenaed to do so. (Does that make you feel real secure?).

Please attend. Time is of the essence because RITBA plans to implement EZ PASS by mid December! In the end, we all want to ensure that our bridges are safe and reliable.

Thank you RITBA for listening to our concerns and for holding this real public hearing.

Deb Ruggiero
Democrat Candidate for State Representative
District 74—Jamestown/Middletown
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