Director of Public Works Ken Mason called this weekend’s snowstorm a “fairly small event” because the snow accumulation was only about 2 inches in Cranston. But city and state officials still saw the storm as a prelude to another snowy Rhode Island winter, and know that they have to be prepared for the worst.
In a pre-storm statement, Mayor Allan Fung said that the city has 50 snow removal vehicles ready at all times as well as 7,000 tons of salt and sand mix stockpiled.
Mason said after the storm that the city ended up using around 30 trucks to plow on Saturday, which were out from 2 in the afternoon until around 1 a.m. None of the available outside vendors were used because of the small nature of the storm.
“There were no big problems,” Mason said. “We only got a maximum of two inches on paved surfaces.”
Mayor Fung added that the city crews did “an effective job to ensure the main roads, hills, and the streets around the schools were passable the next day.”
Despite the lack of problems with this storm, state officials, including Governor Gina Raimondo, are putting in million of dollars in state funds to prepare for when problems inevitably arise during the winter months here in Rhode Island.
The Department of Transportation has commissioned 15 new snowplowing and salt-removing trucks at a cost of upwards of $20 million. DOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said in a press conference Tuesday that last year icy conditions on route 95 caused accidents, leading to traffic backup. To make sure they minimize this, the new trucks were commissioned.
Governor Gina Raimondo added that “we are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way” and said that the state is more prepared than they’ve ever been for whatever the weather throws our way. She referenced the pothole maintenance that has been going on for the past year, which will help keep the roads safer during the winter months.
The Governor also said that 61 new state jobs were added in maintenance and the state is spending millions of dollars to fix and maintain the roads and bridges in Rhode Island.
Raimondo also talked about the new equipment the state has purchased, including the DOT plows, which brings the state fleet to 142 trucks. More than 70 additional trucks will be added by 2019.
She also talked about the new technology of the trucks, including weather sensors in six of the trucks.
“This being Rhode Island, it could be raining in Newport, sleeting in Providence, and blizzarding in Burrillville,” she said. “It’s important to be able to know exactly what the weather conditions are where these trucks are.”
The state also has 66,000 tons of salt on hand to de-ice the roads, she said.
“We want to be prepared,” the governor added.
Alviti also said that drivers in the state are also important in keeping the road safe during snowstorms, asking people to stay clear of the snow plows when they’re doing their work.