The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority was created in 1954 by the Rhode Island General Assembly as a body corporate and politic, with powers to construct, acquire, maintain and operate bridge projects as defined by law. The Authority has no stockholders or equity holders. It is directed by a five member board of directors, four of whom are appointed by the governor.
The Authority was responsible for construction of the Claiborne Pell Bridge (formerly the Newport Bridge) which was opened for traffic on June 28, 1969, and has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Mount Hope Bridge between Bristol and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and the Claiborne Pell Bridge between Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island, since 1964 and 1969, respectively. No tax dollars, state or local, are received by the Authority for debt service or expenses incurred in the operation and maintenance of the bridges and associated buildings and grounds. Rather, all obligations are satisfied with funds received in the form of toll revenue and investment income.
A trust agreement between the Authority and bondholders requires the former to maintain and operate the bridges in an efficient and economical manner. The Authority is at all times to maintain the bridges in good repair and sound operational condition, and to make all necessary repairs, renewals, and replacements.
The Authority is a component unit of the State of Rhode Island for financial reporting purposes. As such, its audited financial statements are included in the State of Rhode Island's annual financial report. The Authority is exempt from federal and state income taxes.