PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The surprise rush to get shovels in the ground to repair and replace vital sections of the 6/10 Connector hit nine months after a Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) inspection graded a key structure on the well-traveled artery a 19 out of 100.
But RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said it had nothing to do with any hidden political agenda.
“No,” Alviti said. “This is about transparency to us.”
Alviti said what pushed the Huntington Avenue Viaduct and the entire collection of structures into the critical stage was a follow-up examination in June that prompted what is termed a “critical finding” letter from the inspectors who were working on a 2016 inspection due this coming December.
Among the new issues revealed, a horribly rusted temporary support beam.
“This was decaying to the point of possibly falling over onto the high speed rail that’s next to it,” Alviti explained.
Target 12 reviewed nine inspection reports from the stretch of highway that according to RIDOT is traveled by 100,000 vehicles a day.
Seven of them had failing grades of 67 out of 100 or lower, with three grading less than 30. The lowest was a 12.6, tagged on the Westminster Street Underpass 2.
When Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered RIDOT to put the $400 million 6/10 at the top of its project list eleven days ago, most of the concern was aimed at the twist of ramps and roadway that connects Route 6 to Route 10.
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The Huntington Avenue Viaduct received a 19 in an inspection dated December 16, 2015.
The report includes dozens of shots of the problem spots.
Heaps of rust near the footings, 4 X 6 inch hole, rusted through a beam that’s right under the road and missing anchor bolts, emphasized by the claw of a hammer.
In the written section of the inspection, there a was a common phrase: “moderate to heavy rust.”
There was also a reference to the “reinforced” road we drive on with our vehicles.
“The underside of the reinforced deck has numerous hollow areas measuring up to 8 feet long,” the report stated.
Alviti said as bad as the December report is, the inspection process is ongoing and the June findings are what prioritized the 6/10, which includes several bridges that are at least 50 years old.
Alviti, who admitted the condition of the various structures keep him awake at night, said the fact that the reports are available is one of RIDOT’s most important, recent changes.
“We are opening the doors and windows of DOT that have never been opened before,” he said. “It is transparency.”
The only two bridges that passed in the recent round of inspections were the Broadway Underpass, which received an 83.2 and the Broadway Overpass, which received an 82.4. The Broadway Ramp Overpass tallied a failing 49.3.
The project, which is already funded by the $4.7 billion RhodeWorks measure, is expected to take four years to complete, with construction set to start as early as next summer. RIDOT is looking for bids by the end of this year.