June 20, 2024

Washington Bridge reporting legislation signed by governor

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State House — Legislation from Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian requiring regular monthly updates from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on the state of the Washington Bridge was signed Friday by the governor.

“This legislation ensures that everyone impacted by this situation – in the East Bay and across Rhode Island – receives timely, thorough information about the status of the bridge, the plans for its repair and replacement, the timeline involved and the steps being taken to alleviate traffic while work continues,” said Senator Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence). “These reports will not only inform the public but also provide necessary information for lawmakers and government officials to determine how best to provide relief to residents who have experienced such tremendous disruption to their lives and livelihoods, from improving temporary traffic patterns to supporting local businesses.”

This legislation (2024-S 2727A, 2024-H 7759A) requires RIDOT to provide monthly reports on developments related to the Washington Bridge to the General Assembly and the governor’s office. It requires the first report be submitted within 30 days of the legislation being signed into law and that reports continue until the restoration of the bridge. These reports will also be posted publicly on RIDOT’s website.

“Aside from the terrible traffic and the significant damage to local businesses and quality of life, one of the most frustrating aspects of the bridge closure for residents has been the lack of clear and timely information surrounding the status of the Washington Bridge,” said Representative Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket). “The public deserves transparency and accountability for this crisis that has upended their daily lives and this legislation will help deliver that to the residents of Rhode Island, while also ensuring that the rebuild of this bridge happens as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Each report will contain an updated timeline on the repair and replacement of the bridge, data on traffic patterns, including delays, accidents and vehicle breakdowns, on the bridge, adjustments and anticipated adjustments made to the traffic patterns over the bridge and along alternate routes, the health effects on residents near the Washington Bridge and an overview of the direct effects of the bridge closure on streets and roads in East Providence and Providence.

Each report will also include an overview of costs related to the bridge, including the repair and replacement of the bridge, overtime costs for traffic details, a list of consultants retained by RIDOT, updates related to any pending investigations and audits related to the bridge and answers to all questions submitted by the chairs of the House and Senate oversight committees.

The legislation will also require RIDOT to promptly report unexpected changes to the progress of repairing and replacing the Washington Bridge to the governor, the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House rather than waiting until the next snapshot report is due.

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