Three senior transportation officials have been placed on administrative leave, but it has nothing to do with the sudden closure of the Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston, according to Governor Gina Raimondo.
Governor Raimondo recently put the chief engineer, deputy engineer and managing engineer for the state Department of Transportation on paid leave. She denies the move relates to the closure of the Park Avenue Bridge (reopened to traffic Tuesday), which House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has suggested was politically motivated. The bridge is in his home community, and the closure came as lawmakers stalled on a proposed truck toll to pay for road and bridge repairs.
Raimondo says the personnel changes at RIDOT are part of a larger review of the agency.
"When I came into office, I immediately brought in a new director, commissioned a top to bottom review, make sure we have the right people in the right positions," the governor said Monday. "So this is just one step in many steps that we’re taking as part of the restructuring of DOT."
Raimondo declined to get into specifics about the review or the reasons behind the personnel moves.
The chief of the state Department of Transportation said he cannot discuss the issue either. RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said a review is ongoing at the state Department of Administration.
"It wouldn’t be fair for me to comment on, either from the standpoint of the employees themselves or from the standpoint of the administrative process that has to take place," said Alviti.
Alviti said he is working to make RIDOT more efficient and more pro-active. The agency has struggled to address a significant number of aging bridges and has fallen behind schedule on a major highway overpass project in downtown Providence.
This week RIDOT reopened the Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston about a week ahead of schedule, after closing it down in June citing safety concerns.
At the time, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello called for an investigation, saying the move was calculated to put pressure on lawmakers, who were considering a proposal to toll trucks for road and bridge maintenance.
Repairs to the bridge included replacing an aging wooden deck and repaving.
Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. email@example.com