A federal judge has slammed the brakes on Rhode Island’s truck tolls and sided with the long-haul trucking industry’s complaint that the highway charges were unfair and unconstitutional.
After U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith ordered Rhode Island officials to stop collecting truck tolls within 48 hours, Rhode Island Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lisbeth Pettengill on Wednesday afternoon said the tolls would be shut off “probably this evening.”
At that point, Gov. Dan McKee was still reviewing his options and the administration had not said whether it would appeal the decision.
The state has collected $101 million in truck tolls since the first one launched in 2018. Without the dozen toll locations across the state, Rhode Island would lose an estimated $40 million annually in revenue.
In a 91-page ruling that recounted the put-down that Rhode Island is “little more than a smudge on the fast lane to Cape Cod,” Smith wrote that by discriminating against out-of-state trucks, the tolls placed an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce.
“Because RhodeWorks fails to fairly apportion its tolls among bridge users based on a fair approximation of their use of the bridges, was enacted with a discriminatory purpose, and is discriminatory in effect, the statute’s tolling regime is unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution,” Smith wrote.
Political Scene: Trucking industry dealt a setback in toll…