RIDOT changes course, won’t move too-heavy truck Friday night

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A truck carrying more than 500,000 pounds of cargo won’t be leaving for its final destination Friday night, after all.

After announcing plans to move the big rig – which weighs approximately seven times the state’s legal weight limit – the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced just before 6 p.m. that the truck will be staying put for at least another night.

The agency released a statement Friday evening saying it was unable to reach an agreement with Bay Crane Northeast, the company transporting the oversized load, over who would cover any costs related to the move:

“Safety is our first priority at RIDOT. Prior to issuing a permit for the super load truck to proceed, RIDOT sat down to negotiate an MOU to assure that the company would meet its obligations for the costs this incident has incurred. The parties were not able to reach an agreement. RIDOT is not willing to pass these costs on to the taxpayers of Rhode Island as the costs were incurred as part of an illegal act. Bay Crane should never have proceeded down our roadways without a permit.”

The truck has been sitting in a Park & Ride lot on Route 117 in Warwick since last Friday. Prior to that, it was stopped on the side of I-95 for several days after it was found to have been far too heavy to traverse Rhode Island’s bridges.

Bay Crane spokesperson John Tassoni insisted that taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the bill. However, he refuted earlier claims from Alviti that Bay Crane agreed to pay for all related costs.

According to Tassoni, RIDOT sought to have the company pay $150,000 to $185,000 to cover the cost of inspecting any bridges and overpasses crossed by the truck.

Tassoni said the company is not willing to pay that amount of money, calling it an “unreasonable request.” He continued:

“Bay Crane Northeast has submitted an application to the RIDOT for an oversized load permit that would allow the movement of a piece of machinery, which was delivered into Quonset Point on behalf of a customer. Earlier today, it was determined that the terms that the RIDOT sought to impose in conjunction with the issuance of the permit were unreasonable. Similar terms have never been mandated by the RIDOT when oversize load permits have been issued in the past. At this point, the RIDOT has not denied the permit based upon any sound engineering premise. Bay Crane anticipates working with the RIDOT cooperatively to ensure the safety and welfare of the public, to accomplish the movement of the piece of machinery as soon as practical.”

The truck is destined for Medway, Massachusetts. Tassoni said Bay Crane is losing money every day because the generator is so late to its destination, and the customer is “irate.”

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said his employees worked day and night to figure out a suitable path for the truck and were finally able to find a solution.

Planned route of the overweight truck (Map provided by RIDOT)

The excursion will require a police escort and is expected to take about 10 hours, according to Alviti.

“The route that they were planning on taking was pretty much the 95 corridor which they had preceded on [and that] had a high likelihood of damaging bridges along that way,” Alviti said.

Alviti said more than 50 bridges and culverts along the route needed to be assessed and double-checked for safety.

The agency already had to inspect a handful of bridges the truck had already crossed before it was stopped last week.

“There were four or five bridges that it did go over and we have all of them inspected and there was no damage to those bridges,” Alviti said.

State police said they are investigating whether the company that owns the truck violated state statues and if fines need to be imposed.