Greater City Providence

RI General Assembly: Bill taps DOT to clear snow from sidewalks on overpasses, pedestrian bridges


Press Release from the General Assembly:

STATE HOUSE – After last winter’s barrage of snow made traversing streets a challenge for pedestrians, Providence legislators Sen. Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski have reintroduced legislation putting the Department of Transportation in charge of clearing snow from sidewalks on state-controlled highway overpasses and overhead pedestrian walkways with significant pedestrian traffic.

The pair said it became apparent last year by the many pedestrians forced to dodge traffic in the street that sidewalks in those two areas seem to be among the most neglected after snowstorms.

“Most cities and towns require property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their land, and you’ll see lots of business owners and residents out there when it snows fulfilling their duty. But when pedestrians get to an overpass, which isn’t in front of anybody’s property, they have to either walk out in the street or climb over a snow bank and trudge through the snow. It’s dangerous, and we need to designate someone to be in charge of snow removal in these areas, at least where there are a lot of pedestrians,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), who is the Senate majority whip.

The two Providence legislators say the problem is of particular concern to them because their city has many such overpasses with heavy pedestrian use because several major highways cut through it. There are also a number of pedestrian bridges over highways and other obstacles in their city, and those can create even greater danger, they said.

“When there’s a large snowstorm, pedestrian bridges are a real problem. It is a safety and quality-of-life issue. When they’re impassable, we’re at risk of having people try to cross snowy highways on foot, dodging high-speed traffic. The state needs to take ownership of this to make sure people and drivers are kept safe,” said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), who is the House deputy majority whip.

The legislation (2016-S 2005 , 2016-H 7008 ) would give the DOT 24 hours after the end of a snowfall to clear the sidewalks on state highway overpasses and overhead pedestrian walkways under state control with significant pedestrian traffic.

The bill is cosponsored in the House by Rep. Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Rep. David Coughlin Jr., (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) and Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown).

Whip Goodwin and Deputy Whip Blazejewski also introduced the legislation last year, and although it appeared headed for passage, the General Assembly adjourned before its final vote.

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1 comment

  • The problem with this bill is “with significant pedestrian traffic.” This leaves it open to RIDOT’s interpretation as to what “significant” means, and that’s not wise. It should state that RIDOT will clear *all* overpasses that have sidewalks within 24 hour of a storm.

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