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Federal judge dismisses suit over Rhode Island truck tolls

Judge says tolls on tractor-trailers are a state tax to fund highway work, and the federal Tax Injunction Act prohibits the court from stepping in

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit over Rhode Island's truck-only tolls, saying that the court lacks jurisdiction and the case should be handled in the state system.

Last June, the state started tolling trucks as part of the “RhodeWorks” infrastructure plan. American Trucking Associations filed suit, claiming the tolls violate the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause, and discriminate against out-of-state truckers. Cumberland Farms, M&M Transport Services and New England Motor Freight were also part of the lawsuit.

Currently, only two of 14 proposed toll gantries are in place. When fully operational, the toll network is expected to generate $45 million a year in state revenue.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William Smith said the tolls on tractor-trailers are a state tax to fund highway work, and the federal Tax Injunction Act prohibits the court from stepping in.

ATA said it is reviewing the decision and considering next steps. 

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