Fed-Up Rhode Island Drivers Deserve Answers on Washington Bridge Mess
It has been close to two months since the shutdown of the Washington Bridge’s westbound side and there is still no clear path to its resolution, leading local commuters to grin and bear the painful traffic that has resulted from the detour.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) continues to assess the severity of the situation, and the sooner assessors can define a clear plan of attack, the better.
It’s clear there are a lot of moving pieces to this massive project, and as a Rhode Islander who commutes to the SouthCoast, I don’t know how much more traffic I can take.
Let’s take a look at the facts we do know.
Assessors Evaluating Washington Bridge Situation
Last month, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti and Gov. Dan McKee spoke with news outlets to share that several consultants were assessing the condition of the bridge.
“These consultants, what they find, will determine the scope of the work that we need to do in order to correct any deficiencies on the bridge,” Alviti said.
This could mean a total rebuild, and at that point, I’ll be looking to purchase a private plane to make my commute easier.
Funds Available for the Repair Unclear
Where is the money coming from for the repairs? That’s the biggest question.
NECN reported that House Minority Leader Michael Chippendale is raising questions over past spending.
“We do have one the highest road maintenance fees in our gas tax where you clearly haven’t been using it to maintain our roads or bridges because well, they’re falling down,” he said WJAR.
Justice Department Launched Investigation into Washington Bridge
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the bridge’s condition and is asking for the last 10 years of documents related to the structure.
According to ABC6, McKee anticipated the move and is encouraging RIDOT to cooperate.
In response to the investigation, the governor has sent a retired police lieutenant and key member of his State House team, Joseph Almond, to monitor RIDOT.
"Joe Almond is there to coordinate. He is there to oversee, make sure information is flowing in all directions and we're moving together as one team,” said McKee.
So, Now What?
Unfortunately for Rhode Island and Massachusetts commuters, we are forced to play the waiting game. While the investigation is underway, it could further delay the original three-month plan.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to traffic frustration. A typical 10-minute commute has turned into a 45-minute debacle.
“Give yourself more time to get to your location,” is the statement I hear over and over.
“Give us a clearer plan for a solution,” I respond.
Local commuters deserve a clearer plan, and hopefully, we get that soon.
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