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A Closer Look at How the State Monitors our Local Roadways
Big brother is watching, or in this case, the RIDOT is watching – 24/7.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has a lot of responsibilities in order to keep our local roadways and bridges safe and functioning properly.
It’s a job that is endless.
I recently got a chance to meet with the department’s manager Michael Wreh and RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin to get a behind-the-scenes look at how it all works.
The RIDOT building is located on Smith Street, directly across from the State House.
The Traffic Management Center or TMC as its referred to as, was created back in 1997. The center currently employs 29 people including support staff members.
St. Martin tells me “The Bridge” is where crews monitor all of the state’s high-tech traffic cameras.
Wreh says, at all times there are 2-3 staff members who monitor a switch board which displays 32 cameras at a time, rotating every 30 seconds. In total, the department currently has 130 active cameras.
Workers closely manage the state-of-the-art cameras – searching for crashes, delays, breakdowns and aiding in the response and management efforts. That’s why you may have seen the cameras spinning or zooming during my traffic reports.
Over the next 10 years, the RIDOT will be putting up even more cameras.
“We will be adding 8 along Route 146,” said Michael Wreh.
A Rhode Island State Police trooper is also stationed inside the center weekdays from 6 a.m.- 8 p.m. If there is something happening that requires police assistance staff members will alert the officer so troopers can be dispatched to the scene.
Workers are also fielding calls from drivers on roadway hazards, potholes and facilitating DOT workers in order to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.
POTHOLE? Call 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. After hours call 401-222-2378.
The center is heaviest staffed from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., when the RIDOT says, typically there are the most problems on the roadways.
The center also controls 24 message boards across our local roadways including I-95, I-295, I-195, Rte. 4. Rte. 6, Rte. 146 etc.
The message boards “tend to cluster around holidays and weather events,” said St. Martin.
They are often used to remind people to drive safely and also display drive times.
The RIDOT’s new approach to combating driving under the influence has gotten mixed reviews.
“We are trying a different approach. We have to try and change the culture, change the behavior of drivers, ” said St. Martin.
However you feel about them it has people talking.