PORTSMOUTH, RI (CBS) – An arsonist tried to torch a toll station on the Sakonnet River Bridge early Saturday morning that controls the bridge’s open road tolling system, officials confirmed on Saturday.

The fire was set just two days before a 10-cent toll, considered controversial in part because drivers without EZ Pass transponders would be on the honor system when it came to paying, was set to take effect.

The system was installed as part of the newly-built replacement bridge that connects Tiverton and Portsmouth, RI. The planned toll has been met with outcry from many nearby residents. A protest was planned for Sunday.

On Saturday, investigators were out inspecting the damage from the fire.

David Darlington, Chairman of the RI Turnpike and Bridge Authority, referred to the fire as “an act of attempted sabotage.”

“We have no tolerance for vandalism and arson, which puts lives in peril,” he said in a statement. “(The fire) poses a potential danger to motorists and first responders, and the financial costs of the crime are borne by toll payers.”

Darlington also said in the statement that it is not expected to cause any delays in the implementation of the toll.

“A backup system is in place and therefore there will be minimal interruption of the normal operations,” Darlington said.


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