The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is urging residents to drive cautiously today, particularly in South County, which saw the highest winds, flooding, power outages and tree damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Although the storm has passed, there may be roads still blocked by debris. Even streets that are passable may be partially restricted by trees or crews working to restore power or fully clear the roads. The Department especially wants to urge drivers and pedestrians to be wary of any downed power lines, which may be live.
“There is a temptation after a storm like this to get out and view the damage,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “We ask people in hard-hit areas not to make any unnecessary trips and to be mindful of the men and women working to restore our power and get our roads back to normal.”
RIDOT Maintenance crews have been and will continue to work cooperatively with National Grid, State and local police, and the Rhode Island National Guard to reopen any blocked roads. Additionally, RIDOT staff will survey roads and bridges at first light, particularly in coastal areas, to assess any damage caused by the storm surge. The Department will work with cities and towns to expedite repairs to any damaged roadways or bridges.
Commuters should give themselves extra time to get to work in the morning, as delays are possible. The use of transit services is encouraged, and RIPTA bus service is expected to be back in full operation today with a few exceptions. MBTA service between Wickford Junction and Mansfield, Mass., is suspended Tuesday because of debris on the line and other damage. Trains on the Providence/Stoughton Line will originate at Mansfield Station.
RIDOT will coordinate with State and local police to have officers at intersections with non-operating signals. Motorists who approach a signal without power where no police officer is present should treat it as a four-way stop. Drivers approaching the intersection should yield to vehicles that have already started to proceed, and motorists should always yield to the right when two vehicles arrive at the same time. Motorists may also encounter stop signs and street signs that were blown down by the strong winds.
Motorists can report storm-related problems to RIDOT’s Transportation Management Center at 401-222-2378. Anyone with questions can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information will be available on RIDOT’s website (www.dot.ri.gov) and its social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.