PROVIDENCE, R.I., June 9 (UPI) -- Rhode Island wants to add tolls to Interstate 95 under an exception letting three states add tolls to interstates whose federal maintenance funds are drying up.
The 1998 exception gets around a law prohibiting states from charging tolls on interstate highways built with federal money. It lets as many as three states start collecting tolls on existing interstates to fund improvements on those roads.
The parts of I-95 and other interstate highways, mostly in the Northeast, that have tolls were either completed or under construction when the Interstate Highway System was established after World War II. The tolls on those roads were typically allowed to remain, but the roads became ineligible for federal maintenance and improvement funds.
Virginia and Missouri sought to take advantage of the exception and received U.S. Transportation Department permission to add tolls, but neither has tolls up and running, the non-profit Stateline news service said.
Pennsylvania applied but was rejected because its application said it would divert some of the money from its proposed I-80 tolls to support Philadelphia public transit, Stateline said.
Rhode Island officials say they would like to grab Pennsylvania's spot and -- learning from Pennsylvania's mistake -- they plan to be sure they spell out that the tolls proposed for the state's 40 miles of I-95 would go only toward improvements to the highway itself, Rhode Island transportation Director Michael Lewis said.
"The tolling option is what we think of as the least painful, most equitable, least impacting option to raise additional revenues that can be invested back in states' infrastructure," he told the news service.