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Newberry Doesn't Expect a House Vote on Tolls; DOT Defends Bridge Closure

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House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield) doesn't expect the House to vote on Governor Gina Raimondo's truck-toll proposal before...

House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield) doesn't expect the House to vote on Governor Gina Raimondo's truck-toll proposal before lawmakers recess for summer this week.

Newberry points to remarks by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who has shown little enthusiasm for a vote this week, due to his lingering concerns on the impact on business of the governor's ambitious infrastructure plan.

“I think the speaker’s been very clear in public that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to rush something like this through, whatever people think of it, good or bad," Newberry said Wednesday. "So unless something dramatically changes in the next two days, I don’t see it happening.”

Lawmakers are expected to recess for summer as soon as Thursday.

In related news, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung joined Mattiello in pressing for an explanation of why the state closed Cranston's Park Avenue Bridge Tuesday, nine months after its last inspection.

As part of its defense of the state Department of Transportation's decision to close the bridge, DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said via email, "following recommendations from three separate engineers (one from AECOM, one from RIDOT, and one from the Federal Highway Administration), and in consultation with the Rhode Island State Police, RIDOT decided to close the Park Avenue Bridge because the bridge was not safe for vehicular traffic.

"After making that decision, RIDOT dispatched a fourth engineer – from WSP – to inspect the bridge. After inspecting the bridge, WSP agreed with the decision to close the bridge. In its report .... WSP said, “WSP agrees with the recommendation to close the bridge due to the safety hazards posed by the timber deck conditions to the traveling public both on top of the bridge and below the bridge.”

"WSP is the company that last inspected the bridge in 2014. In the report issued today, however, WSP said, “it appears that the asphalt wearing surface has deteriorated significantly since the September, 2014 inspection including the development of the large pothole and shoving/debonding of the adjacent pavement near the west end of the westbound lane. The exposed timber deck in this area was subject to repeated impact loading from vehicular traffic, which included many overweight trucks. The timber boards in this area now exhibit significant cracking, splitting and deflection. In addition, the individual boards appear to be moving independently and not as a single, laminated deck unit as designed. WSP agrees with the recommendation to close the bridge due to the safety hazards posed by the timber deck conditions to the traveling public both on top of the bridge and below the bridge.”

Newberry Doesn't Expect a House Vote on Tolls; DOT Defends Bridge Closure
Newberry Doesn't Expect a House Vote on Tolls; DOT Defends Bridge Closure