Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) announces that starting Friday, drivers with E-ZPass will be able to drive through the Newport Pell Bridge plaza without stopping.
In response to public feedback, RITBA added open road tolling (ORT) and removed the gates from the E-ZPass-only lanes. Vehicles equipped with E-ZPass transponders will have the exclusive use of the new left lanes. The new speed limit in the ORT lanes is 40 miles per hour.
“Open road tolling was asked for by the public, and the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is pleased to deliver this modern convenience,” said David Darlington, chairman of RITBA. “E-ZPass customers will be able to cross through the plaza without stopping, and those paying cash should see reduced wait times.”
Motorists paying by cash will experience no changes, other than reduced lines at the gated lanes as E-ZPass users divert to the ORT lanes.
RITBA awarded a contract to VION Municipal Capital, LLC through a bid process last year. It’s a public-private partnership whereby VION bore the $4.5 million in costs, including the finance, design, build, and construction costs. They will process violations and collect delinquent revenue.
Cameras mounted on the gantry at the plaza will take photos of license plates of the cars using the ORT lanes without transponders, and those motorists will pay a toll and violation fee by mail. The RITBA board voted today to set that fee at $10, which is the current fee for a toll violation. The board discussed increasing the rate after an unspecified grace period so that drivers can adjust to the new lanes.
“The vast majority of the cash-paying motorists will stop and pay the toll,” said Darlington. “For those who flout the law, a fine must be levied to offset the costs of collecting the toll. To our E-ZPass customers, it’s simply a fairness issue.”