RIDOT pleased with storm cleanup; some roads to remain slick overnight

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Drivers were encouraged to use caution Tuesday after a mix of freezing rain and sleet left roads in slippery condition.

The wintry mix changed over to rain in the afternoon, but many roads remained slick, especially side roads that have not yet been treated. There’s also a concern that wet spots on the road may freeze overnight.

The National Weather Service canceled  a Freezing Rain Advisory late Tuesday night,

Our Flight Tracker is showing delays on several arrivals and departures at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.

Due to adverse sea conditions, Block Island Ferry service was canceled for Tuesday. If you had a car reservation that you need to reschedule, call the reservation office at 1-866-783-7996 option 3.

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State Police said they responded to two dozen minor accidents and spinouts early Tuesday morning, but no serious injuries were reported.

Bill Dumican of Johnston told Eyewitness News he doesn’t mind the winter weather much – that is, until Tuesday’s slush broke his shovel.

“It’s all slush, it’s kind of hard on you but you know, you’ve got to get it done,” he said.

In North Smithfield, it was a similar slushy scene – as crews spent the afternoon clearing parking lots.

Report continues below after video: 

Warm stretch

The wintry weather comes after an unusual mild stretch. There were nine days in December when the temperature reached the 60s, according to the Pinpoint Weather Team.

Be Prepared: Winter Weather Resource Guide »
Be Prepared: Winter Weather Resource Guide »

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) spent Monday getting prepared for the inclement weather. The agency said it has more than 100 trucks at its disposal, most of which will be on the roads this week.

“We can’t get any more ready than we are for this one,” said Joe Bucci, acting administrator of RIDOT’s Highway and Bridge Maintenance Division. “Everything is up and running and guys are well-rested and ready to go.”

Bucci said the recent warm weather will be helpful for the crews who will be pre-treating and clearing the roads.

“Typically when the weather has been as warm as it is, pavement temps will be up, so it’s less likely that the snow is going to stick quickly, so that does work in our favor,” he explained. “We will still need to pretreat before the precipitation comes so it melts on contact.”

After the salt shortage last winter, RIDOT set up the state’s first strategic salt reserve of approximately 20,000 tons of road salt. The agency hopes it won’t have to uncover the pile at any point this season.

According to RIDOT, the state bought 13 new trucks this year – six have been delivered and seven will be here next month. Each truck has a price tag of about $200,000.

“All of our state trucks have a closed loop system which means we can. It’s GPS based,” Bucci said. “We can track how much material they’re putting out, what their application rate is, we can see where they’re going in real time, breadcrumb them throughout their plow routes.”

When all of the trucks are delivered, RIDOT’s fleet will be 126 vehicles.

Final thoughts on first storm

“It went very well for the first storm of the year,” said Bucci. “There were some minor hiccups to get over with breaking in some new equipment. And we’ve got some new drivers out there and things, but overall very pleased with what we did.”

Bucci said Mother Nature played a huge role in the success of this storm cleanup.

“The turnover to rain helps out a lot. That melts a lot of the stuff that’s left on the roadway,” he said.

State Police want to remind all drivers to take it slow and use extra caution on the roadways.

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