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Rep. Morrison Introduces Bill To Dissolve Turnpike and Bridge Authority

The bill would place the new Turnpike and Bridge Division under the direction of an assistant director at DOT.

The Rhode Island General Assembly recently announced a new piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Richard Morrison.

The bill would essentially dissolve the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and move all of its projects to be handled by a division of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

The following is the official release from the Rhode Island General Assembly:

If shrinking government and making it more efficient can save taxpayer money, Rep. Richard P. Morrison (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) has a suggestion about where to start.

He has introduced legislation that will dissolve the quasi-public Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, moving all its duties and functions to the RI Department of Transportation in a new Turnpike and Bridge Division.

“Maybe back in 1954, when the Turnpike and Bridge Authority was created by the General Assembly, there was good reason for a separate entity to maintain and operate bridge projects in the state,” said Representative Morrison. “I am not aware of any compelling reason for the authority to continue to exist now, when the authority is responsible for only two bridges and when it makes much more sense to have bridges, like all other roads in the state, under the control and operation of the DOT.”

“The Turnpike and Bridge Authority is just, in my opinion, another layer of government that doesn’t need to exist, and especially since, as a quasi-public agency, it is not directly answerable to the citizens of the state,” he said.

Representative Morrison said he is one of those legislators who has actively opposed plans by the Authority to institute tolls on the Mount Hope and Sakonnet River bridges. But he said his legislation is not solely a response to those proposals by the Authority.

He did suggest, however, that by eliminating the Authority and placing its functions within the DOT, the resulting efficiencies “might eliminate the need to place tolls on the bridges, or raise the toll prices.”

“I am primarily concerned about too many quasi-public agencies operating in Rhode Island, with too little oversight,” he said. “There are good arguments for the existence of some, such as the Economic Development Corporations, but I believe the Department of Transportation has the experience and the expertise to do the same work that is being done now by the Bridge Authority.”

The bill would place the new Turnpike and Bridge Division under the direction of an assistant director at DOT.

The Morrison bill would also transfer to the Department of Transportation all powers, control and jurisdiction of and title to the Sakonnet River Bridge.

The bill, 2012-H 7457, has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) and Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).

“This is not about tolls.  It is about who is best suited to operate the bridges in the state and how can we, considering our state’s financial condition, do that the most effectively and efficiently,” said Representative Morrison. “In the case of state government, multiple layers of bureaucracy and authority are not the best way to do things.”

DownTown February 16, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Which Governors have robbed RIBTA? They rob the DOT. If the gasoline tax all went to the DOT instead of where ever they send it the roads would be just fine. Wasteful spending like having a board of directors, toll takers that do nothing because if should all be automatic, customer service reps secretaries etc etc. That's overhead. RIBTA takes care of 2 bridges. The DOT has the Janestown and 600 others along with all the roads and they don't get the money that they should be getting from the state. A board of directors for 2 bridges. Yeah right.
Joe Sousa. February 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM
We need a complete over haul of the DOT. That should be another bill put in along with this one. The lawsuits caused by DOT cost us a whole lot of money. Why isn't the Gov, looking to reform this dysfunctional department ? Tax and Spend Chafee I must have lost my mind. This Governor couldn't find his behind with both hands tied behind his back The Missing Link
Caroline Evans February 16, 2012 at 11:49 PM
For one.. the quasi-governmental agencies are of doubtful utility... they are corrupt organizations that have neither the oversight given a government agency nor the oversight by shareholders of a truly private company. They combine the very worst features of both worlds.. .and evade the good ones. The DOT is a screwed up operation itself.... and these quasi-governmental agencies were created by lazy, corrupt legislatures/governors that tried to do an end run around their duty to the taxpayer/voter..which is to oversee and supervise our employees at the DOT. They did not want to inconvenience the Peter Principle cases they promoted beyond their ability to run things...nor did they want to tread too closely to the unions who so plainly paid them off to leave them alone. And so.. these feckless lowlife politicos dreamed up these quasi-governmental agencies.. that "just happened" to personally benefit the politicos and their golfing buddies. Take note of who works at these quasi-governmental agencies ... and you see parasites on the RI economy.... people who are of no real ability... who cannot cut it in real business and so sought refuge there after sewing kneepads into their suits or pantyhose offered flattery and pleasure (and bribes?) to politicos. The quasi-governmental organization is an organizational form that is the love-child born of a no-tell-motel tryst between communists and robber-barons.
David February 17, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Joe I AGREE with you for once. Nice job Rep Morrison!
5th Warder February 17, 2012 at 12:08 PM
This is more about Rep. Morrison keeping tolls off the Mt Hope Bridge than anything. If he were sincere, he's realize that the bridges that RITBA care for are in good shape, with ongoing maintenance, and the maintenance is paid for. As a quasi-public entity, they are less apt to be pushed around by the short-sighted, self-serving clowns on Smith Hill. On the other hand, DOT bridges are dangerous, collapsing, mismanaged disasters. Maintenance gets pushed off by the legislature to save money. Safety suffers as a result, and actual costs go up in the end. Morrison has the right idea, but backwards: take ALL the bridges away from DOT and put them into the hands of an organization that has an established record of knowing how to take care of them.

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