Hurricane Joaquin blows toward Rhode Island as the state remains vexed by its own ring of challenges: the hangover of 38 Studios, trying to modernize state agencies, financially troubled fire districts, you name it. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As always your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The state Department of Transportation is negotiating a possible consent decree with the US Justice Department due to environmental damage caused by years of inadequately monitored runoff on highways around the state.

Happy Friday, and thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Every Rhode Islander knows our state’s roads and bridges need repairs. Yet lawmakers closed up shop at the General Assembly without taking action on a plan to raise the money via truck tolls. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the General Assembly needs to do to pay for the needed fixes.

Despite six collegial months, the General Assembly did not have a happy ending. The 2015 session crashed and amid the usual Smith Hill blame game. Several big issues were left without resolution, notably a plan to shore up the state’s aging bridges and roads.

On the cusp of Statehouse debate over trucking tolls to fix bridges, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation has closed the Park Avenue Bridge over Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in Cranston, effective immediately.

The action came after a DOT outside engineering consultant inspected the bridge and found ``significant deterioration in the bridge’s timber deck.’’  The DOT then sent one of its own engineers to inspect the bridge and that probe confirmed the independent analysis.

Shortage Of Road Salt Supplies Hits RI

Feb 18, 2014
Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation says it’s running low on road salt for the highways. The news comes as another winter storm is expected to hit the state.

The department says it only has enough road salt for one more storm.  That’s because this winter has not only been harsher than others, but because it has swept across a broader swath of the country. Most states in the northeast get their salt from the same sources, and with wicked weather blanketing the region, the regular suppliers are getting tapped out.

Dignitaries including Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the state’s congressional delegation will gather in Providence Monday for groundbreaking on the new Viaduct south replacement project. The viaduct is a nearly 1,300 foot bridge that carries Interstate 95 through downtown Providence.

The Providence viaduct, built nearly 50 years ago, is showing its age.   Wooden boards line the underside of the deck to keep crumbling concrete from falling on cars below. And weight limits would have to be next, said state Transportation Department director Michael Lewis.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Residents and merchants in the East Bay are sharply opposing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Local lawmakers have joined them in asserting the tolls will hurt the economy in communities near the bridge.