RIDOT admits RhodeWorks sign in shadow of State House is incorrect

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Smith Hill RhodeWorks sign a few blocks from the State House and the R.I. Department of Transportation includes a mistake that a top official blames on the weather, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

The sign is connected to an $8 million set of RIDOT projects involving 10 different bridges in different communities, including one on Smith Street.

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said a delay involving a gas line near one of the bridges prompted the delay, and thus the yellow lights on the signs for the multi-location project.

But the signs currently say the project is two months behind a December 2016 completion date – even though it’s now the middle of March, three months later.

“92 percent of the projects are on time, on budget.”

The potentially embarrassing part: the Smith Street sign is right by RIDOT and the State House, where lawmakers debated and approved RhodeWorks.

“I can’t say that I’m embarrassed by it,” Alviti said, before using a saltier word to indicate the issue made him angry. “It just causes aggravation for me.”

Alviti also showed Target 12 the work order dated Feb. 1 that shows the signs were scheduled for an update to indicate the group of projects is now five months behind schedule and 10 percent over-budget.

Alviti said the cold weather delayed changing the sign because the stickers showing the changes would not adhere properly in the cold.

The RIDOT director also stands firmly behind the concept of what his agency calls its “accountability signs” and how it shows taxpayers cost and timeline estimates for the projects they’re funding.

“For the first time ever, we know on a project-by-project basis exactly where every project is,” Alviti said. “And the project managers meet every week. So, we know why [a project is behind or over budget.]”

According to Alviti, there are green lights for cost and completion dates on 52 of the 57 RhodeWorks projects, many of which involve more than one job site.

“That means 92 percent of the projects are on time, on budget,” Alviti said.

The sign on Smith Street will be updated as soon as weather allows, he added.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau