To the Editor
Recently, Governor Raimondo expressed an interest in consolidating all bridges in the state currently under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation to create an efficiency in the state budget. Newport, Jamestown, Mount Hope and Sakonnet bridges are maintained by the Rhode Island Bridge and Transportation Authority (RIBTA). Our state has some of the worst bridges in the nation. Councils in Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth passed resolutions opposing this measure to place our local bridges into the DOT portfolio.
Newport City Council vigorously disagreed the bridges in Newport, Bristol, Jamestown, and Portsmouth should be folded into DOT for the following reasons. Our bridges have been well maintained by RIBTA for over fifty years. Why change something that has worked well. The old Sakonnet bridge was under state jurisdiction when replaced by DOT, however, the State quickly placed the new bridge under the jurisdiction of RIBTA knowing of its proven reputation for excellence. In recent years, Board Chairman, Stephen Waluk and Bridge Executive Director Buddy Croft made certain local authorities were always apprised when and where maintenance would be scheduled. Newspaper publications to local communities kept citizens aware of all changes in scheduling, timelines and progress. We would lose our local control and constituencies which have successfully advocated for affordable tolls for residents of Newport and Jamestown and put in safety measures to maintain lane control. Being swallowed up by a larger state entity such as DOT could affect tolls, maintenance issues, and safety precautions. Local input could be lost with different priorities upstate.
Please take a moment to speak with local state legislators in all communities affected, or write a letter to your local media to let them know local control would be in the best mutual interest of our communities as RIBTA has earned the citizens respect and trust for over fifty years.
Resident, Newport City Council