The Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for East Bay Bridges will hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday.
The agenda includes a review of commission legislation and a presentation by the House and Senate fiscal staffs, which will include a recap of recent studies on the state of Rhode Island’s infrastructure and funding, current initiatives and economic impact considerations.
Rep. Helio Melo (D-East Providence) and Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-East Providence), who also serve as the chairmen of the House and Senate finance committees, co-chair the commission. Senate members of the commission also include Senators Louis DiPalma (D-Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Christopher Ottiano (R-Portsmouth, Bristol). House members include Representatives John Edwards (D-Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Antonio Giarrusso (R- East Greenwich, West Greenwich).
The three remaining members of the special legislative commission are Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, or a designee; Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) Executive Director Buddy Croft, or a designee; and Department of Administration Director Richard Licht, or a designee.
Last year, the General Assembly’s approved budget included the transferal of ownership of the Sakonnet River Bridge to RITBA. RITBA has since placed a 10-cent toll on the bridge. Since then, a majority of the East Bay delegation and members of their communities have been vying for an equitable alternative to the tolls in order to maintain the area’s infrastructure and protect Aquidneck Island businesses.
The commission allows lawmakers and officials from the affected state departments and agencies to come together for six months and map out various funding plans, potentially eliminating the need for a Sakonnet Bridge toll.
The meeting will take place at 4 pm in room 35 of the State House. The commission will not be taking testimony at this meeting. Capitol TV will broadcast the meeting live on Channel 15 for Cox Communications and Full Channel, as well as Channel 34 for Verizon.
630 WPRO & 99.7 FM - The Voice of Rhode Island
Winner of numerous AP awards, WPRO has been the market leader News/Talk in Providence for over 80 years. The station has RI's largest news team led by News Director & Morning Anchor Bill Haberman.