Providence, RIDOT preparing ahead of weekend storm

City making sure it's worth its salt

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Though Thursday’s weather was clear, cold and dry, change is anticipated all too soon. The potential for a significant winter storm coming Saturday into Sunday has been riding a knife’s edge throughout Thursday — with the size of the accumulations too close to call for meteorologists.

Providence is among the Rhode Island cities getting ready just in case the storm gets big.

The city’s new public works director, Russell Knight, showed off the number of salt-sand-and-plow trucks Thursday at the Department of Public Works headquarters. Officials increased the snow-removal budget this year by 12 percent, up to $1.8 million dollars.

Knight’s remit is organization, structure, efficiency, and heavy planning — his previous gig was running operations at the Naval War College, following thirty years as an aviator and officer in the U.S. Navy. The city learned a lot of lessons from last year’s experiences — with debilitating, long-lasting snow conditions, and so much of it.

“The city did have some challenges, but every city in the Northeast had challenges. The city said, ‘We need more equipment.’ So they went out and they spent the money on it. The council and the city got together and said, ‘We need to provide our employees better equipment and news equipment, so they can get the job done efficiently,'” said Knight.

The efforts to salt and sand and shovel and plow will swing into gear Saturday — as needed. The DPW has a grid system that they will stick to, in order to tackle every block in the city.

The department urges patience; if you think your street hasn’t received due attention from a plow. The top priorities are hospitals, public safety and public transit facilities.

Another military man, Michael Borg is the new head of Providence Emergency Management Agency. Borg is urging Providence residents to download the city’s Code Red notification system to their phones ahead of the storm.

“You can get weather reports from it, and if we had a travel ban, a parking ban, we would issue it out on Code Red, as one of our ways to get the message out to the public,” he told Eyewitness News on Thursday.

RIDOT’s new trucks

After last year’s historic snowfall, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation said it is ready for the worst this winter – and they’ve brought in some massive new machinery to help keep local roads safe.

“Make sure that the materials are ready, trucks are ready. For this one, they’re predicting high winds. So we may have tree vendors on standby,” said Joe Bucci of RIDOT. “We’re getting a total of 13 new trucks. We have received all but four of them. Three of them are due in, hopefully, before this event starts.”

According to Bucci, each new truck costs about $225,000 – a total of nearly $3 million.

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