Governor, RIDOT director talk storm preparedness at press conference
The Department of Transportation has acquired 15 snowplowing trucks – brining the fleet to 142 plows – and related snow fighting equipment at a cost of more than $20 million.
DOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said in a press conference Tuesday in the DOT headquarters garage on Lincoln Avenue that last year’s icy conditions on Route 95 caused accidents, leading to traffic backup. To make sure they minimize this, the new trucks were bought.
Governor Gina Raimondo, also speaking at the press conference, added, “We are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way” and said that the state is more prepared than they’ve ever been for whatever the weather throws its way.
The additional 15 plows, some of which are brand new and some refurbished, bring the state fleet to 142 trucks and is part of a plan to purchase a total of 71 new trucks by 2019.
The Governor also said that 40 positions on RIDOT’s maintenance staff were added last year and an additional 20 were added this year. These newcomers will serve as drivers during snowstorms but also are available year-round to perform other DOT maintenance jobs, such as repairing broken lights, cutting grass, and cleaning the drains.
She also talked about the new technology of the trucks, including weather sensors in six of the trucks, paid for by a $100,000 federal grant. These sensors provide real-time data on air and pavement temperatures as well as humidity levels to assist the drivers of the plows.
“This being Rhode Island, it could be raining in Newport, sleeting in Providence, and blizzarding in Burrillville,” Raimondo said. “It’s important to be able to know exactly what the weather conditions are where these trucks are.”
The state also has 66,000 tons of salt on hand to de-ice the roads, she said. She added that road salt was in very short supply during the winter of 2015, so the state has increased these reserves, 10,000 tons of which are stockpiled near the state’s salt supplier in Allens Avenue in Providence, to make sure they won’t run out under extreme circumstances.
“We want to be prepared,” the governor said at the press conference.
Another development by the state is the return of automated pothole filling machines. This is the third straight year the state has been using these machines, which put down a hot-patch of pavement that provide “more durable and longer lasting patch” over potholes than cold-patches did in the past, according to the Governor’s release, and this will help the repairs remain intact during the winter months.
DOT director Alviti added at the press conference that drivers in the state are also important in keeping the road safe during snowstorms, and he asked people to stay clear of the snowplows when they’re out doing their plowing.